RESOLUTION: Let's be Pesticide-free

The Premier and the Minister of the Environment are to be congratulated for heeding the call of health and environmental organizations. Pesticides are poisonous and children right across the province will be better protected thanks to this announcement.- from the Registered Nurses of Ontario media release, March 4, 2009

Provincial Action!

The Province of Ontario released a pesticide ban on over 250 chemicals. The ban is in effect as of April 22, 2009 (Earth Day) and takes the place of existing municipal pesticide bylaws, establishing one clear set of easy-to-understand rules, and providing certainty for businesses operating in different areas of the province. To learn more about the government's ban, click here.

Earlier this year, WHEN joined hundreds of others and provided comments in support of a provincial pesticide ban, and helped make it a reality.

Cosmetic Pesticides Are Unsafe

Cosmetic pesticides – those chemicals used to control pests in outdoor spaces like lawns and gardens – are unsafe and unnecessary for the maintenance of green and healthy greenspace.

  • Acute effects of pesticide exposure range from irritation of the nose, eyes and throat, burning, itches and rashes to nausea, vomiting, headaches and general malaise;[i]
  • Scientific studies reveal links between pesticide exposure and higher risk of leukemia[ii], non-Hodgkin's lymphoma[iii], soft tissue sarcomas[iv] and prostate cancer;[v]
  • Children are particularly susceptible to harm from pesticides, both in utero and during childhood. Pesticides may cause birth defects[vi], developmental delays[vii], hyperactivity[vii], behavioural disorders[vii], motor dysfunction[vii], nervous system disruption[viii] and immunotoxicity.[ix]
  • Studies have found cosmetic pesticides to contaminate urban watersheds – the source of drinking water and key to ecological sustainability – throughout the Great Lakes basin.[x]

Pesticide Exposure is Currently Unavoidable

We are exposed to pesticides in virtually all aspects of our lives. Canada's regulatory framework allows for the continued development and use of cosmetic pesticides while depriving us of the right to live protected from these exposures. The pesticide industry publicly promises continued use of chemicals for the maintenance of lawns and gardens.

Cosmetic Pesticides Are Unnecessary

Healthy, disease-resistant lawns and gardens are possible through chemical-free horticultural methods. A growing sector of pesticide-free lawn care and landscaping companies provides opportunities for workers and industries interested in phasing-out chemicals.[xi]

Resolved that,

Given the above, the Women's Healthy Environments Network (WHEN)

  1. Supports the adoption of municipal pesticide bylaws, and opposes the exclusive adoption of voluntary initiatives advocated by the pesticide industry.
  2. Seeks municipal bylaws that would include public education programs and phased-in prohibitions of cosmetic pesticides on private property.
  3. Works to educate and encourage our members, citizens and locally-elected officials to support precautionary bylaws in their communities.

Women's Healthy Environments Network (WHEN), August 2002


[i] Reigert,J.R. and J.R.Roberts. 1999. Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings, Fifth Edition. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Briggs, S.A. 1992.Basic Guide to Pesticides: Their Characteristics and Hazards

[ii] Leiss, J., Savitz D. 1995. Home pesticide use and childhood cancer; a case control study. Am J Public Health 85:249-52 and Daniels O., Savitz D. Pesticides and childhood cancers. Environ Health Perspect 105(10).

[iii] Cox C. 1995. Dicamba. J Pesticide Reform 14(1). and Morrison, HI et al. 1992. Herbicides and cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst: 84 (24) 1866-8.

[iv] Dick J. et al. 1997. Pesticides and cancer. Cancer Causes and Control 8:420-43. and Smith, JG and Christophers, AJ. 1992. Penoxy herbicides and chlorophenols: a case control study on soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. Br J Cancer 65 (3): 442-48.

[v] Van Der Gulden et al. 1996. Farmers at risk for prostate cancer. Br J Urology 77 (1): 6-14.

[vi] Brender, JD, Suarez, L. 1990 Paternal occupation and encephaly. Am J Epidemiol. 11:517-21. and Sever LE et al. 1997. Reproductive and developmental effects of occupational pesticide exposure: the epidemiological evidence. Occupational Medicine; State of the Art Reviews. 12 (2): 303-25.

[vii] Guilette, EA et al. 1998. An anthropological approach to the evaluation of preschool children exposed to pesticides in Mexico. Environ Health Perspect. 106: 347-53.

[viii] Ecobichon D. 1994. Organophosphorus ester insecticides. In: Pesticides and Neurological Diseases (Ecobichon DJ, Joy RM, eds). CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL; pp 71-250.

[ix]Voccia,I et al. 1999. Immunotoxicity and pesticides: a review. Toxicol Ind Hlth. 15: 119-32.

[x] Struger, J et al. 1998. Pesticide Concentrations in Urban Aquatic Environments (unpublished) and Struger, J et al. 1994 “Chapter 6: Environmental Concentrations of Urban Pesticides” in Current Practices in Modeling the Management of Stormwater Impacts. CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL. pp 85-98.

[xi] See the Organic Landscape Alliance (

The Partnership for Pesticide Bylaws consisted of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Humane Society of Canada, the Association of Early Childhood Educators, Ontario, the United Steel Workers of America, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Great Lakes United, the Breast Cancer Prevention Coalition, the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Pesticide Free Ontario, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Women's Healthy Environments Network, Environmental Defence Canada and the Toronto and York Region Labour Council.