PROTECT Yourself: Avoiding Harmful Chemicals In Your Yard and Garden

1. Have your soil tested before planting a vegetable garden. Lead and arsenic are the most widely documented pollutants in urban soils. Testing is usually for lead only, but it can serve to signal the presence of other contaminants. Contact your local agricultural agency for more information or read more here and here.

2. Use organic products and practices for gardening and lawn care. Pesticides and herbicides used on gardens and lawns can be tracked into the home on the bottom of shoes and by pets. Children and pets that play on the lawn can be exposed, and the chemicals can leach into waterways and drinking water wells. For more information on how to practice less toxic plant care, visit the IPMopedia website.

3. Fight weeds without herbicides. Instead, prevent weeds by planting groundcover on open spaces and control weeds by pulling them out, spraying them with vinegar, or coating them with soapy water.

4. Practice companion planting, a technique that pairs plants to enhance plant growth and repel harmful insects naturally. For more information, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website.

5. Encourage your neighbors to use organic practices. Educate them about the dangers of pesticides and herbicides.

6. Do not resort to burn barrels. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), open burning of household waste in barrels is one of the largest sources of airborne dioxins and furans emissions in the United States. Dioxins and furans are unwanted byproducts of incineration, uncontrolled burning and certain industrial processes. They can get into your body through breathing contaminated air, drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. USEPA said that they are cancer causing substances to humans and also induce changes in hormone levels.

7. Replace your gasoline-powered lawnmower, leaf blower, and snow blower. Gasoline-powered lawnmowers emit disproportionate amounts of pollution as they tend to lack emissions equipment. Choose an electric lawnmower or, for an extra workout, use a push lawnmower. And replace gasoline-powered leaf blowers and snow blowers with electric ones, or — better yet — use human-powered tools, the rake and shovel.

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Public domain image from Pixabay.