Prepared by Randall McQuaker, CAPE Pesticides Director
Children in Alberta are among the unluckiest in Canada when it comes to exposure to pesticides. CAPE doctors are speaking out to help protect them.
Alberta is one of only two provinces in Canada where there is neither a provincial regulation nor multiple municipal bylaws prohibiting non-essential uses of pesticides on lawns, gardens, green spaces and sports fields. In contrast, some 80 per cent of Canadians live in communities that have such restrictions.
This spring, two of Alberta’s great cities are reviewing their use of pesticides. CAPE has made submissions to both Calgary (“Avoiding Pesticide Health Risks in Calgary”) and Edmonton (“Reducing Pesticide Health Risks”), urging steps to limit children’s unnecessary pesticide exposure.
Healthy, livable communities don’t use toxic pesticides. Peer-reviewed studies have established that exposure to pesticides is associated with serious health risks, especially for children. Among other health problems, pesticides have been linked to increased risks of cleft palate and low birth weight among babies, learning disabilities and developmental delays in children, as well as neurological impacts and several different types of cancer in adults.
Calgary and Edmonton have ostensibly adopted guidelines that are supposed to reduce their use of the more toxic pest control products on city landscapes. But these policies aren’t working to protect the health of residents. It is dismaying to see that 31 of 35 pest control products used in Calgary are in the second-highest risk category set out in Alberta regulations. These include 2,4-D, mecoprop, dicamba and glyphosate – pesticides that are banned in many other Canadian cities.
Apart from weed control products, Edmonton has acknowledged using a neurotoxic chemical, chlorpyrifos, for larval mosquito control. Health concerns around that pesticide (particularly with respect to children’s brain development) have been sufficiently worrisome to prompt a committee of independent scientists in California in 2017 to declare it a “developmental toxicant” for children. These concerns amply justify a precautionary policy to avoid the use of this chemical.
CAPE doctors are urging municipal councillors in both cities to enact a bylaw prohibiting the use of toxic pesticides for non-essential purposes on residential lawns and gardens as well as on City sports fields and green spaces. CAPE believes that protecting residents from unnecessary exposure to pesticides should be an important public health goal of elected representatives in Calgary and Edmonton.
Albertans agree. A poll conducted for CAPE and Prevent Cancer Now in 2016 found that over 60 per cent of Albertans are concerned about pesticide health risks and favour increased restrictions on the cosmetic uses of pesticides on lawns and gardens in their communities. CAPE’s case study of municipal weed control in 2018 concluded that there are safer alternatives in use across the country that don’t put kids’ health at risk, while keeping lawns and parks looking great.
TAKE ACTION NOW TO PROTECT KIDS IN ALBERTA!
Alberta’s two largest cities are set to make decisions on pesticide use this spring. Join the call for the Mayors of Calgary and Edmonton to prohibit the use of non-essential pesticides on lawns and gardens and in city parks.
Let them know it is time to show leadership on children’s health.