Groups asks Summerside council to ban cosmetic pesticides

Nancy MacPhee nmacphee@journalpioneer.com
Published on March 20, 2015

Karl and Hiltrud Hengst sit in council chambers following their presentation Tuesday to Summerside city council asking for a ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides in the western municipality.

©Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE — Health is not negotiable and poisoning people must be banned.

It was a strong statement from Karl Hengst who, with his wife Hiltrud, members of Pesticide Free P.E.I., called upon Summerside city council to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides.

Hengst made a 10-minute presentation at council's monthly meeting Tuesday night.

"Health is not a debatable issue. Health is not comparable with monitory or economic discomfort," said the city senior. "The presently government-sanctioned spraying method puts people, pets, wildlife and environment at grave risks, and this must be stopped at once."

With the 2015 lawn-spraying season nearing, the issue of using pesticides to ensure green, weed-free lawns requires council's urgent attention, he said.

"Cosmetic pesticides are by definition not needed to protect human health or grow food, and therefore are unnecessary," added Hengst. "A pesticide may have federal registration, but that does not mean it is safe. In Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency documents, it is stated that it is 'good practice to reduce or eliminate any unnecessary exposure to pesticides'."

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Hengst told council that repeated exposure to cosmetic pesticides has been linked to numerous serious medical conditions, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and childhood leukemia.

"Provincial legislation governing the use of cosmetic pesticides is among the weakest in the country. Unfortunately only one lawn chemical - 2,4-D - is banned," he added. "Equally unfortunately, there are no pesticide-free buffer zones around special areas such as children's playgrounds, schools, preschools, bus stops, hospitals, or senior citizens' homes."

Hengst provided a list of "safe" lawn-care products Halifax has permitted, noting Summerside should be proactive by providing guidelines with allowable substances and help provide natural lawn-growing maintenance education.

He suggested the best approach is to “formulate bylaws that specify what is organically acceptable and safely allowed to be used, as opposed to what isn’t.”

Coun. Tyler DesRoches, after hearing Hengst’s presentation, said the use of cosmetic pesticides is concerning.

He has a five-year-old daughter and his home is located across the street from a fertilizer plant.

“At least once a week we can clean our windows with the dust that is on them from the dust left lying on the parking lot,” said DesRoche, who has made his own inquiries on the ban of cosmetic pesticides.

“I would like to see something done with this. I do have a small daughter and she has to grow up in this world that we create for her.”