From the Mayor: The Danger of Pesticides on Lawns

By Mary Marvin, Mayor of Bronxville

June 9, 2021: Now that we are experiencing a wonderful influx of new young families to the Village, keeping it as safe as possible on every level is paramount.

With our lawns, both front and back, often used as our children’s play areas, I thought it time to revisit the use of pesticides on lawns throughout the village. As you may remember, the Village Trustees banned the use of pesticides on all municipal properties well over a decade ago. Many residents followed suit but we still see a profusion of little yellow pesticide flags throughout the Village.

As background, post World War II, all of the US chemical companies had warehouses full of potent chemicals left over from the war effort and re-purposed many into chemicals and pesticides for our lawns.

This new industry came at the perfect time for the post war boom generation who wanted to be suburbanites with all the accoutrements that attached including manicured lawns and foliage.

Lawns were equated with an approved lifestyle and the Department of Agriculture along with the Garden Clubs of America and the USA Golf Association promoted the gospel of grass. Best lawn contests were held in neighborhoods and uniformity encouraged.

Scientific studies simply did not keep pace with manufacturing production so there is actually no reason to believe that just because something is on the store shelf, it is safe. You only have to look at the presence of Round Up on virtually every hardware store shelf to see that affirmed.

Chemicals used since the last 1960’s are now only being tested for toxicity. As example, those lawn flags stating the ground will be safe in 24 hours are not based on any scientific study rather it was a legislative compromise between the EPA and the large chemical companies.

Honestly given what we know now from scientific research, the perfect lawn should not be a source of envy but a source of potential harm.

As spring is here, it is not too early to consider alternative methods to care for your property as so much evidence points to the adverse effects on human health and the environment posed by synthetic pesticides.

Americans apply 80 billion pounds of pesticides annually at a cost of $2 billion and the use is increasing annually. Homeowners use ten times the amount that farmers do acre per acre.

Many chemicals banned in other countries are still in use in the United States. Of particular concern are our young residents. Children are uniquely vulnerable to pesticide exposure as they spend more time playing on the grass and outdoors in general.

The pesticides can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, carried home on the soles of shoes and inadvertently ingested when children put unwashed hands in their mouth.

If a homeowner or lawn care professional chooses to spray chemicals on the lawn, it is imperative that you notify your neighbors so that windows can be closed and children, animals and toys brought inside as there is a direct relationship between this kind of pesticide exposure and diseases including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and lung cancer.

What was thought to be acceptable amounts of chemicals, scientists now know have a cumulative affect most notably of disrupting the endocrine system. This disruption actually has a direct link to breast and thyroid cancer, infertility and diabetes.

Regular pesticide use kills microorganisms in the soil weakening plants so they are vulnerable to pest infestation and disease. Pesticides also indiscriminately target and kill beneficial insects, frogs, birds and even household pets.

Just last year an EPA test found non-organic fertilizers in more than half of our waterbodies nationwide and up to 70% in East Coast waters and a pesticide in at least in every fish sample.

Simply put, what we put on our lawns ends up in our water and is not all removed by water treatment.

As per our water supply, please consider vigilant eco stewardship and water lawns only once a day and in early morning when evaporation is lowest, thus maximizing the effectiveness of the water and aiding in deep root growth that is more drought resistant.

Calibrate sprinklers so water is never directed on to driveways or sidewalks.

Net net, simple adjustments to our normal routines can make the Village a much healthier place to live and work.



Photo by A. Warner

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.



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Bronxville Overview

Bronxville is a quaint village (one square mile) located just 16 miles north of midtown Manhattan (roughly 30 minutes on the train) and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is known as a premier community with an excellent public school (K-12) and easy access to Manhattan. Bronxville offers many amenities including an attractive business district, a hospital (Lawrence Hospital), public paddle and tennis courts, fine dining at local restaurants, two private country clubs and a community library.

While the earliest settlers of Bronxville date back to the first half of the 18th century, the history of the modern suburb of Bronxville began in 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased a farm and commissioned the architect, William A. Bates, to design a planned community of houses for well-known artists and professionals that became a thriving art colony. This community, now called Lawrence Park, is listed on the National register of Historic Places and many of the homes still have artists’ studios. A neighborhood association within Lawrence Park called “The Hilltop Association” keeps this heritage alive with art shows and other events for neighbors.

Bronxville offers many charming neighborhoods as well as a variety of living options for residents including single family homes, town houses, cooperatives and condominiums. One of the chief benefits of living in “the village” is that your children can attend the Bronxville School.

The Bronxville postal zone (10708, known as “Bronxville PO”) includes the village of Bronxville as well as the Chester Heights section of Eastchester, parts of Tuckahoe and the Lawrence Park West, Cedar Knolls, Armour Villa and Longvale sections of Yonkers. Many of these areas have their own distinct character. For instance, the Armour Villa section has many historic homes and even has its own newsletter called “The Villa Voice” which reports on neighborhood news.

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