Toxic outcome from spray

Click here for a Good Dirt Radio 5-minute eco-spot on no spray. 

English: Spraying pesticide in California

English: Spraying pesticide in California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite marketing spin and availability, pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers are not very safe for humans and the environment. When sprayed on our backyards, city parks and in industrial agriculture as they are across the nation, cumulative effects of toxic residue, in the biosphere, can have lasting effects. This over use of chemicals is suspected to be a cause of the widespread bee and bat colony collapse and is affecting ecosystems all the way up the food chain to humans. From local lakes, creeks and rivers to the exponentially growing dead zones in the sea, and from lawns, gardens and farms to the atmosphere, the petroleum intensive production and use of these toxic chemicals is a major cause of climate change. Listen in to hear about some safe alternatives to these toxic, petro-based chemicals.

Click here for resources and information on this topic.

Read transcript below.

Welcome to Good Dirt Radio, reporting on positive solutions…taking root.

Despite marketing spin and availability, pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers are not very safe for humans or the environment.  When sprayed on our backyards, city parks and in industrial agriculture… as they are across the nation, cumulative doses of toxic residue, in the biosphere, can have lasting effects. This over use of chemicals is suspected to be a cause of the widespread bee and bat colony collapse and is affecting ecosystems all the way up the food chain to humans. From local lakes, creeks and rivers to the exponentially growing dead zones in the sea, and from lawns, gardens and farms to the atmosphere, the petroleum intensive production of these toxic chemicals is a major cause of climate change.

We spoke with Mitchel Cohen, chairman of New York City’s WBAI radio and co-founder of the No Spray Coalition, formed in 1999.    After local politicians sprayed his City in fear of mosquito born west-Nile disease, he rolled up his sleeves and got involved.

Cohen:   The manufacture of pesticides is highly energy intensive, it’s a very large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.  Also, chemical fertilizers,  which add nitrous oxide emissions, that are 400 [300?] times more powerful than carbon dioxide.  There are also synergists, they call them, that are mixed in with the pesticides themselves that make the pesticides even more potent and more dangerous to people and other species.  They are also estrogen mimickers and hormone disrupters.  We’re talking about something that’s significantly changing our bodies as well as our environment.  

Cohen says neuro-toxins, invented and used during World War I, were adapted by the chemical industry into an indiscriminate pesticide war against bugs and weeds.  He says its counterproductive to kill natural predators, such as birds, bats, dragon flies and ladybugs, because in a short time span, the target bugs adapt and flourish, absent their natural predators, creating a short-term solution but long-term degradation.

Cohen:   When you spray a pyrethroid, malathion or even a herbicide in your yard, they don’t just dissolve or dissipate.  They sit there for a while.  Your kids play in it.  It gets on their toys and their clothes.  They track it into the house and we breathe it in and we get it on our skin.    It also kills all life in the soil.

Ignoring corporate ads and media spin on toxic sprays, citizens around the country are waking up to the threats of these chemicals.  Katrina Blair, founder of Turtle Lake Refuge in Southwest CO, is a naturalist, writer and no-spray activist who educates citizens and city councils about natural, un-drugged soil.

Blair:    So the benefits of a drug free yard are you’re encouraging a healthy ecosystem that takes care of itself.  Instead of chemical fertilizers and herbicides that are commonly used, you give it a natural compost tea which is a life-force, it breeds life. Compost tea is a fantastic way to nourish the entire ecosystem of your back yard.   It helps the grass out-compete other plants, it also creates an incredibly healthy underground ecosystem of all the worms and the micro-organisms and the mycelium root structures that creates a healthy breeding ground for healthy plants.

Instead of spraying bugs and weeds, homeowners and renters alike can opt for more natural alternatives like catnip, citronella, pennyroyal, lavender and peppermint plants and oils.  Blair elaborates on compost tea.

Blair:  Compost tea is becoming more popular in many communities and you can actually purchase it, locally made or you can make your own, very simply, by taking finished compost, putting into a pillow case, dropping it into a 55 gallon container of water and aerating or stirring it for three days.   

Katheryn Goldman, a professional conservationist from Haley ID, makes a career of promoting solutions to vital issues such as toxic sprays used on back yards and public lands.  As a leader in the Blaine County Pesticide Action Network, she advocates getting involved in your community.

Goldman: We can all do our part to help protect ourselves and our planet and that starts right in our own back yard.  You can join a local group that’s working on educating people about this issue and providing alternatives to those chemicals, or, if there’s not one right there, just start your own.  

Blair:   One positive force of action that anyone can take is to become an organic land steward of their own backyard and this will greatly bring nourishment into your health, your community and the whole ecosystem from the bees down to the fishes in the ocean. 

Good Dirt Radio’s stories are about folks getting involved in making a difference in their community, examples of ways that everyone can help shape a better world, a positive voice for change.  10

I’m Tom Bartel and I’m Tami Graham.  Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio, digging up good news…. for a change.