Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.
I’d like notifications about when and where pesticides and herbicides have been sprayed in my area. Is there a place where I can look for pesticide warnings or pesticide application signs?
Over the past decade, public concern about the potential hazards associated with chemical lawn care products and services has steadily increased. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 176 million pounds of pesticides are applied on non-agricultural lands per year. Of that, at least 70 million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns, including residential lawns, golf courses, and parks. As a result, there is widespread public exposure to pesticides in towns, cities, suburbs, and rural areas.
Notification. Pesticide application notifications allow people to take precautions to avoid direct exposure to hazardous pesticides. Twenty-three states, plus Washington D.C., have adopted laws requiring hired applicators to warn people about lawn, turf, and ornamental pesticide applications by giving prior notification to the owners of abutting properties, posting pesticide application signs, or establishing registries. Because not all U.S. households hire a lawn professional, some states also require homeowners to notify neighboring properties.
State notification laws usually require the listing of which pesticide has been applied, the location of application, and the applicant. Prior notification, if required, generally must be given 24 to 48 hours in advance.
Posting. In the states that require commercial applicators to post notification signs when they apply a pesticide to a lawn, they usually must put the pesticide application sign in a conspicuous point of access to the treated property and leave it in place for 24 hours. Warning signs vary in language but typically state something like, “Lawn Care Application: Keep off the Grass.”
In Connecticut, homeowners and commercial applicators must post notification signs if applications are made within 100 yards of any property line. Wisconsin pesticide retail stores are required to provide warning signs to homeowners when they purchase pesticides.
Registries. In 16 states, a state agency or, in some cases, individual companies, have to establish a pesticide registry where people can sign up for prior notification when a commercial applicator treats a property with a pesticide. In some of those states — including Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, and Pennsylvania — individuals requesting notification must provide documentation and certification of a physician-diagnosed sensitivity to pesticides. Because these registries only provide prior notice to those who make a request to be notified, the general public is left unaware.
Under the New York state lawn pesticide notification law, counties can adopt specific provisions that require commercial applicators to provide 48 hours prior notice to all neighbors if treatment occurs within 150 feet of abutting property and require homeowners to post notification signs of lawn application.
Learn what your state’s notification regulations are by looking up or contacting your state’s pesticide regulatory agency. For more information on turf and lawn pesticide applications, see Beyond Pesticides’ Lawns and Landscapes page.
Photo by Shutterstock/Suzanne Tucker.