Keep Pesticides out of Parks

Learn how you can reduce or even eliminate the use of harmful chemicals in public areas.
By Megan Phelps
August/September 2008

Pesticides have been shown to cause many health problems; let’s avoid spraying them when possible.
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Many of the chemical pesticides used in our city parks and public spaces are damaging to the environment and to our health.

Many common pesticides are associated with a variety of health problems, especially for children. Research suggests that some are linked to certain types of cancer, and can lead to weakened immune systems and developmental disorders. And the effects aren’t limited to where they’re sprayed: Pesticides often end up in our rivers, lakes and drinking water.

If you’re concerned about toxic chemicals in public spaces, start by contacting your public officials. Check with your city parks department and find out if notices are posted after toxic chemicals have been sprayed, or if they’re used around playground equipment.

Many cities are already taking safer approaches to pest control. One common approach used to maintain healthier public spaces is Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This pest control system uses the least toxic fix for pest problems. For regional IPM resources, visit their Web site

Another approach is to designate some parks “pesticide free” and maintain them without the use of these chemicals. Two cities with designated pesticide-free parks are Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash. Search for “pesticide free park program” here and for “pesticide reduction programs” here.  

Two good places to learn about the specific health effects of different pesticides and nontoxic alternatives are the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides and National Pesticide Information Center.


Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on .








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