Lawn Sign Update

Popping up in yards this spring—even before the tulips and daffodils—are little white and green signs. Don’t breathe in too deeply, though. Look closely and you will read “CAUTION,” “Pesticide Application,” “Keep Off Until Dry.” The sign also includes an image of an adult and child walking a dog on a leash with a diagonal line across, indicating that this action is prohibited. In accordance with Michigan law, commercial applicators place these lawn markers at the entry point of a yard after a pesticide application. The pesticides used could be any number of chemicals. At this time of year sprays of 2,4-D are common, as are applications of imidacloprid or glyphosate. These chemicals are registered pesticides. Registered not because they are safe—it is actually unlawful to claim any pesticide is safe—but registered because they are inherently dangerous.

Pesticides are designed, developed, customized to cause harm to living organisms. Humans and beneficial wildlife are not the intended targets, but are not safe from harm. Independent studies have linked 2,4-D (Weed B Gone and many weed and feed products) to cancer in children, adults, and pet dogs. Imidacloprid (Merit), a synthesized nicotine and chlorine based insecticide, affects the nervous system and is lethal to beneficial insects. Imidacloprid is a suspected culprit in the case of the missing honey bees. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round Up, has been shown to disrupt hormone functioning in developing fetuses and is linked to non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

The lawn markers serve an important purpose of informing and warning passers-by to avoid sprayed areas. In recent years, however, as lawn care companies compete for business they have also decorated these state-mandated signs with increasingly bolder and bigger slogans and logos—often times diluting the sign’s original intent. But, an update of State Regulation 637: Pesticide Use calls for the lawn markers to include only the information required by the State. The cautionary statements and images will now also be printed on both sides of the sign. Over the course of over a year, LocalMotionGreen, along with other health advocacy organizations and professional pesticide applicators, met in Lansing on a regular basis to provide input on updating the Rules for Reg. 637. LocalMotionGreen supports the above improvements to the lawn care signs. The new Rules requiring double-sided printing and omitting advertising on lawn markers went into effect February 2008. Notice the new signs and help children recognize them and avoid the area.

Published on March 25, 2008