Pesticide article

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Pecker, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. Pecker

    Pecker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,454

    Came across this article; thought some of you might wanna read it.

    Press Release

    Beyond Pesticides
    Contact: Jay Feldman or Shawnee Hoover

    Mother and Children Hurt By Widely Used Lawn Care Pesticides
    Issue Holiday Wish to Stop the Poisoning

    (BRADENTON, FLORIDA, December 18, 2003) In an effort to alert the public to pesticide poisoning in the state of Florida and to prevent future harm, a registered nurse released today the story of her exposure to hazardous chemicals by a local lawn care company that has left her unable to work.

    This is a story of a trusting consumer, Brenda Jones, who explains that she hired a lawn care service, TRUGREEN ChemLawn, only to find that the pesticides being used were poisonous. The commonly used weedkiller, atrazine, and synthetic pyrethroid bug-killer, bifenthrin, applied to her property resulted in the acute poisoning of Ms. Jones and her two children, ages eight and four. After trying for nearly one-year since the incident to recover from the exposure and continuing symptoms, and having received no assistance from the company and state regulators, Ms. Jones says that it is urgent for the public to be aware of her story before more people are poisoned.

    “My New Year’s wish,” says Ms. Jones, “is that our county and state regulators wake up to the devastating effect that these toxic chemicals can have on people’s lives.” If the public were not led to believe that these pesticides were safe, as I was,” she argues, “then perhaps more people would push for laws to protect us from the unnecessary use of these chemicals.” Ms. Jones says she feels misled by the company about the hazards of common lawn chemicals and the failure of regulators to protect her family and the public.

    The pesticides that poisoned Ms. Jones include the herbicide atrazine and the insecticide bifenthrin. Atrazine, a triazine herbicide, has emerged as one of the most widely used and controversial weed-killers on the market today, manufactured by a number of chemicals including Dow AgroSciences. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), atrazine is known to cause acute effects ranging from fatigue, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting to eye, skin and respiratory irritation, shortness of breath, and asthma. Numerous studies link the herbicide to prostrate, ovarian, breast and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancers. Synthetic pyrethroids, like bifenthrin, have similar effects including cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest pain, and is commonly known to create perpetual heightened sensitivity to chemicals even in low volumes.

    Ms. Jones describes the incident as typical of lawn care applications in her area and recalls the applicator telling her that the chemicals are so safe that he does not need to wear a mask. Yet as soon as the spraying began, some 15 feet from where she stood, she immediately felt a burning in her chest and throat, developed an incessant cough, and ran into the house. That evening her children began complaining of dizziness and stomach aches, and her dog was wheezing and vomiting.

    “The pesticide applicators demonstrate repeatedly that they do not understand the dangers associated with these poisons, or just don’t care how they are harming others,” says Ms. Jones. “Since I was poisoned, I’ve witnessed numerous applicators use poisons two feet from where children are playing, like it’s nothing.”

    Ms. Jones was diagnosed by her doctor with pesticide-poisoning and has spent much of the last year in doctor’s offices. Her distinguished 15-year career, that has included employment at hospitals like Johns Hopkins Medical Center and Stanford University, has come to an abrupt end. Upon going to a lung specialist for persistent shortness of breath and dizziness, she was told that the damage was irreversible and that her airway was now reactive – a condition with no real treatment except the absence of chemicals in her environment.

    Her eight-year old son Jeffrey has been permanently removed from his school due to reactions he gets to pesticide treatments nearby or on the school premises. When Ms. Jones asked the applicator near the school not to spray during school hours, he replied that weed killers and pesticides are registered with the EPA, are safe to use, and will not hurt children.

    "Atrazine poses a serious cancer risk for millions of Americans and exposure to synthetic pyrethroids is an increasing health problem," says Jay Feldman, Director of Beyond Pesticides in Washington, D.C. “People, including applicators, neglect how toxic these bug and weed killers are only to find themselves caught in a web of illness. Companies, federal and state regulators downplay the hazards of commonly used pesticides.”

    After three months of leaving messages and trying to figure out how to notify the state of her poisoning, she finally got in touch with the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control. The agency investigated her claim by contacting the lawn care company. State inspector Mark Beynon determined that too much time had elapsed to do an on-site inspection or soil sample. Her case has recently been reopened by his superior.

    “What happened to Brenda and her family unfortunately is not unique,” says Beyond Pesticides Projects Director, Shawnee Hoover. “We support Ms. Jones in her efforts to warn the public about the hazards of these pesticides. If the government won’t do it – then the people have to.”

    According to Alan Becker of Florida’s Department of Health, all physicians in Florida are supposed to report pesticide-poisoning incidents to the department. Becker confirms that compliance with the mandatory requirement is very low. Pesticide poisonings are frequently misdiagnosed or go unrecognized, he says. The federal government does not have a system to track pesticide poisoning, having shut down the Pesticide Incident Monitoring System (PIMS) in 1981.

    “The assault on Ms. Jones and her family will continue as long as lawn care pesticides are allowed to be widely and freely used. There are so many non-toxic alternatives that don’t poison people and the environment,” says Jay Feldman, Director of Beyond Pesticides. “Lawn care pesticide use should stop.”

    “We are loving parents and would never consent to have our children exposed to any chemical that would harm them,” Ms. Jones says. “If only I had known.”

    View the timeline of Ms. Jones's story.

    What to DoEPA ContactsState AgenciesState Health AgenciesPesticide LabelsMSDSFind an AttorneyFind a LabFill out an Incident ReportPesticide Fact SheetsAlternatives Fact SheetsHow-To Fact SheetsSafety SourceState PagesPublicationsPesticides and You Issue ArchiveLinksDaily NewsPress ReleasesPhoto StoriesCenter for Community Pesticide and Alternatives InformationChildren and SchoolsGenetic EngineeringGolf and the EnvironmentHealthy HospitalsInvasive Weed ManagementNational Pesticide ForumOrganic FoodPesticide Incident ReportsWatchdogging the GovernmentWest Nile and Mosquito ManagementWood PreservativesMembershipEmploymentMerchandiseOur MissionBoard MembersStaffContact Us

    I found it at
  2. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,956


    Sarasota and Bradenton are side by side and have a large anti-pesticide group lead by one Ann Mason. I would not be surprised if Ann Mason was involved in this BS. Yes Atrazine is both a surface and ground water contaminate which just had the label rate cut in haft. But bifenthrin (Talstar) you can swim in. Btw one of the test of new guys is to send them to Ann Mason house to sell pesticide service. :D This is just a case of some dumb Female dog trying to make some money.
  3. rkk95

    rkk95 LawnSite Member
    from west PA
    Posts: 165

    I agree with Ric, I know people that have been spraying chemicals since the mid 70's and they don't have any health problems. I have some people in neighborhoods ask me to not spray at certain times of the day, unless they are on the "list" I pretty much ignore them.
  4. ProMo

    ProMo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,468

    A lady down the street from me just sued her place of work and her kids school claimed that they had sick building syndrom she got a new truck and a new house. It all started when she heard a news report that old bldgs were making people sick and then she had all the symptoms. Yet the guys spraying the atrazine (I used to spray regularly ) seem healthy to me hmmmmmmmm
  5. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 989

    If the truegreen applicator really sprayed that close to the kids or the broad, don't you think the Feds would be nailing him for a label violation?
    I don't know about toxic incident reporting in Florida, however, here in Texas - the inspectors arrive very quickly. I do know that when I got exposed to an insecticide, the quack that examined me never turned the report in to the state.

    FLAWSP LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    Hey Ric- I guess this is a good example of why we need to make sure we follow the letter of the law here in FLA- I'm sure the first thing that will happen is the state will come down on you if you're not properly licensed. I sprayed Atrazine for 7 years and never had any problems.
  7. GreenQuest Lawn

    GreenQuest Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 822

    Instead of pesticide poisoning It probably should be an allergic reaction. Kind of like the peanut allergy, most of this stuff once mixed is just as toxic as some ordinary household items, and for sure things like gas.

    Oh well as I said before, give it time, we will be pulling weeds by hand, squashing bugs by hand, and paying $5 an ear (instead of 12 for $2) corn cause we no longer will be able to use pesticides.
  8. Pecker

    Pecker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,454

    I agree with all of you. I didn't comment when I posted the article because I didn't want to sway anyone's opinion. However, this looks like a classic case of "something for nothing". Just wanted to post it and bring more light to what is happening to our industry. I hope she is happy. Sure makes it hard for the rest of all us trying to make a legit living.
  9. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,268

    I agree with ric too.
  10. vegomatic40

    vegomatic40 LawnSite Senior Member
    from 6
    Posts: 406

    Yep, this lady saw some potentially very deep pockets with TG/CL and decided to go fishing. If the app. gave her whole family an immediate reaction (including the obligatory-liberal-soft-spot Rover the dog) then the treatment would have affected the applicator in a similar fashion as well. As soon as the tort-attorneys get involved and TG/CL settles up to keep it from going to court and dragging it out for potentially years her symptoms will magically disappear. Todd is right. Who are the people at "beyondpesticides"? The same folks that will protest bio-genetically engineered crops and plant materials. Once they have squashed that potential alternative, we can feel really good about "saving the environment" and wear 100% organically grown hemp sandals and sit around the campfire singing Kumbaya.

Share This Page