Pesticides—What You Can Do
to protect yourself, your family and pets, your property, and Islesboro's wildlife and water
Find Out What Chemicals Are Being Used on Your Property
Many landowners are unaware that the products used on their properties for landscape and driveway maintenance and/or protection against ticks contain dangerous chemicals. Here are some steps to take:
- Landscape management. Read the labels for products used on your property. By federal law, manufacturers must indicate if a product is potentially harmful to humans or wildlife.
- Tick and other insect control. If you or a professional applicator are spraying your property, check to see what chemicals are included in the product used. The synthetic chemicals frequently used are bifenthrin, fipronil, and permethrin, all of which are harmful to bees and shellfish.
- Plant suppliers. Find out which plant suppliers provide chemical-free seeds and plants. See the NATURAL GARDENING/Plant and Seed Suppliers section of this website for more information. Ask your favorite garden center to do the same.
Choose Natural Alternatives to Harmful Chemicals
- Lawn and general landscape care. Beautiful lawns and landscapes can be created and maintained with minimal or no pesticide use. Natural land care is about building soil health and fertility through measures such as soil testing, aeration, and careful mowing, seeding, and watering. Excellent information is available online and from local experts—please see the references listed in the Natural Lawn Care Information section of this website.
- Driveway care. In the spring consider an application of sulfur for weed control. During growing season, singeing weeds with a torch or regular applications of white vinegar or a vinegar-based solution are also effective.
1 gallon of white vinegar (everyday 5% household white vinegar is fine)
1 cup of table salt or epsom salts
1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap
Blend thoroughly. Spray driveway on a sunny day.
- Tick and other insect control. Choose from a range of pesticides that are made from natural substances, including botanical oils such as eucalyptus and rosemary. Scientific tests have shown that these pesticides are effective (source: CDC).
- A word of caution about using organic-approved fertilizers and pesticides. Even some organic-approved products can cause harm to pollinators. By selecting the least toxic options and applying them when pollinators are not present, harm can be minimized. See the WILDLIFE/Pollinators section of this website for more information.
Be Informed About Pesticide-Related Developments Both in the U.S. and Abroad
Increasing awareness has resulted in efforts to curb pesticide use in the U. S. and abroad. To name a few:
- In Maine, 29 cities and towns have ordinances banning the use of synthetic pesticides (source: Maine Board of Pesticides Control). On January 3, 2018, the City of Portland passed one of the toughest ordinances in the country (source: PortlandMaine.gov). Other communities and organizations, including Citizens for a Green Camden, ask landowners to stop using synthetic pesticides on a voluntary basis (source: Citizens for a Green Camden).
- More than 1,100 lawsuits have been filed throughout the U. S. on behalf of agricultural laborers and gardeners suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using glyphosate (source: ClassAction.com).
- Since 2009, most provinces in Canada have banned the use of cosmetic lawn chemicals (source: Wikipedia).
- Since the early 2000's, the European Union (EU) has suspended or banned many chemicals deemed dangerous to humans or wildlife, including permethrin, bifenthrin, fipronil, glyphosate and some neonicotinoids (source: The Guardian). In November 2017, the EU voted to reduce the reauthorization period for glyphosate from 10-15 years to 5 years (source: The New York Times).
NEXT: References/More Information