How to Prevent Lawn Chemicals from Polluting Our Drinking Water

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Every year, 80 million pounds of pesticides are used on yards and gardens. Those chemicals can end up in rivers, lakes, and drinking water. Every year, 80 million pounds of pesticides are used on yards and gardens. Those chemicals can end up in rivers, lakes, and drinking water. (Copyright: Melissa King/Shutterstock)

Every year, 80 million pounds of pesticides are used on residential lawns in the United States, and the chemicals that we put in our yards seep into streams, rivers, lakes and our well water. Diane Lewis describes how we are polluting our drinking water and why we should change the way we care for our yards and stop using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Her book The Great Healthy Yard Project explains how these chemicals affect our bodies and outlines alternative ways to care for our lawns and gardens.


Diane Lewis

Comments [13]

With the beautiful lawns comes mower, blower & trimmer noise and gas consumption, plus time away from the pleasures of life and family. Would love to have Astro Turf and just forget about the maintenance.

Sep. 02 2014 07:17 PM
Michael Xiao from Chinatown, SF

I love polluted water I am so fat

Sep. 02 2014 05:13 PM

Old farmer, seen it all and selling organic in Summit, NJ farmers market recently, got basically skewered by a shopper, 50-ish female, making that segment of Portlandia (the one where the characters end up joining the farm that the chicken they were thinking of ordering is from) look like PreK.

Hardcore, angry, self-righteous, yes, sweaty and a caricature of herself.

The farmer was polite even as her fellow shopper was slightly appalled. This Summit mom ended up not approving of the organic farmer's ways and bought nothing (keep in mind the market was technically closed, as well, by this point).

After she left I conveyed the Portlandia episode I mentioned to the farmer. He was good natured about it. "I deliver to people like that every day. Their houses don't have a single weed, covered in pesticide, twice as much as the worst farms. What are ya gunna do."

Sep. 02 2014 04:40 PM
Jennifer from Westport Ct

My dog has lymphoma. My husband had throat cancer with secondaries.
The next door house an acre and half sprays trees, lawns, and all shrubs. All is perfect.
The house on the other side of this house also has a husband with the same cancer as my husband and a dog that died from unknown acute liver breakdown.? cancer, they never did an autopsy.
All in the last 2 years.
Reasons?? Too much pointing at the perfect house with perfect lawns and trees.
How are we to deal with this? How can we help people to understand the perfect lawn does not give you or your neighbors a perfect/ healthy life?
We do not use these chemicals or paid help and it seems our garden is beautiful but in a different way.
Life in an Connecticut/ Westport.

Sep. 02 2014 02:11 PM
Amy from Manhattan

NYC's sanitation dept. has several days a year when people can take unused/expired medications & household chemicals for safe disposal. 311 has info on this.

Sep. 02 2014 01:59 PM
Ivana Edwards from Yorkville

New York City water is full of sediment in addition to chlorine and fluoride, the latter I know for a fact is banned in Europe's water supplies. As for the sediment I had to get a pre-filter for my kitchen filter and now I can see everything that's coming through. It looks like rust and mud. Is that good for me? It's time to stop spreading this myth about New York City water.

Sep. 02 2014 01:59 PM
Patti from Ramsey, NJ

My 13 year old chihuahua died a few months ago from lymphoma. I'm wondering if she developed this cancer because of years of walking through my all of my neighbor's chemically treated lawns.

Sep. 02 2014 01:56 PM
The grass is greener... from this city

Hmmm. What does Martha Stewart's lawn look like, I wonder?

Sep. 02 2014 01:55 PM
LB from Bedford NY

I live in Bedford. At least once a month I get a (mandated) postcard from SavATree announcing that my uphill neighbor is having a lawn treatment performed that week. I don't know what their lawn looks like, but I know the challenges to having a weed-free, lush green lawn on wooded property in Bedford. My lawn is untreated and looks it. I don't fight with nature because I don't want to poison myself, my family, my pets, my neighbors, the birds, frogs or anything else. And I don't want the work. Is there no way to stop these "treatments" by regulating the companies that use and sell the products? Clearly, my neighbors like their lawns the way they are. Until we can change the public's expectations of what a residential landscape is supposed to look like, can't the use of pesticides be more tightly regulated? This must include what is sold to homeowners as well as what is sold to professionals.

Sep. 02 2014 01:49 PM

How effective are filtration systems such as Brita or other?

Sep. 02 2014 01:47 PM

>> doesn't EVERYONE want a colossel McMansion parked on top of her own personal golf course

You're joking, right? It's not even a golf course, or kids' playfield, which would be semi-excusable. In my nabe, by East Norwalk just above the LI Sound, where the lawns pour all the runoff chemicals _directly_ into a large, lovely marsh, the eyesores are used for NOTHING. God forbid the kids mar the lawn(!)

>> Not to mention the army of low wage workers who will be out of work

Not in my neighborhood. They get paid quite well, especially the few who are dependable(!)

Sep. 02 2014 01:40 PM
CHR$ from near here

Only in America or in the former Brit colonies! What's wrong with crabgrass or a rock garden, flowers, shrubs, trees? Perhaps it's the Green Lawn Lobby....John Deere...

Sep. 02 2014 01:38 PM
Peg the segment photo: ...But doesn't EVERYONE want a colossel McMansion parked on top of her own personal golf course? Not to mention the army of low wage workers who will be out of work, if the "job-creating" owners downsize their "super-sized" lawn. And, if we stop using the 80 million pounds of pesticides (and tons of fertilizers) used in maintaining perfect lawns, how many more jobs will be lost???

Sep. 02 2014 01:04 PM

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