Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Here is the link: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110822/NEWS01/708229955
Everett Neighborhood Experiments With Pesticide-free Park
Lowell Park's neighbors get their hands dirty in Everett Experiment
EVERETT -- Megan Dunn's anti-chemical crusade began after she spotted masked workers spraying at the park near her home in the Lowell neighborhood.
Her two young children were playing not far away. That gave her pause."I started to think there's got to be a better way," she said. "We don't need to use pesticides."
Now she heads a pilot project at Lowell Park testing what happens when a park goes pesticide-free. Volunteers weed landscaped areas. City workers continue to mow grass and trim branches.
The city has agreed to abstain from applying pesticides.
The parks department is working actively with the group on the project, said John Petersen, the assistant director for park planning and maintenance.
"I'd like to see it succeed for the people who want it to succeed," he said. "That said, I don't think we are doing a thing that is wrong."
Before the city commits to expanding the idea to other parks, they have to make sure it will work, he said.
Officials want to see if they can meet the public's expectation for park appearance without using chemicals.
They also want to take a hard look at the cost.
The city has reduced its pesticide use by an estimated 80 percent in the past decade, Petersen said. For instance, the city has moved toward using a deep layer of mulch in areas to ward off weeds.
The chemicals typically used in Everett's parks are herbicides -- products designed to kill weeds. Last year in Everett, 1,960 pounds of a granular herbicide were spread over 21 acres of landscaped beds in 52 locations.
Another 870 gallons of herbicide was sprayed over that same area. Most of those gallons were water diluting the active chemical ingredients, Petersen said.
Workers apply an herbicide in the spring to keep weeds from sprouting and then spray problem areas again later in the season, he said.
Going pesticide-free in public spaces is an idea slowly and sporadically taking hold in the Northwest.
Cities including Snohomish, Seattle, Shoreline and Redmond have made more intensive efforts to reduce pesticide use in public parks, said Josh Vincent, a spokesman for the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, based in Eugene, Ore.
"The No. 1 challenge is money," Vincent said. "Cities are concerned it will cost them more to manage the park at the aesthetic level people expect without a chemical tool."
Chemical controls are cheaper than paying for more labor, he said. However, there might be other "hidden costs," such as lawsuits, that aren't readily apparent.
It makes sense to forgo chemicals because other alternatives exist that don't pose an impact to people or the environment, Vincent said. Parks draw the very people most susceptible to the long-term effects of chemicals: children.
His organization advocates that cities use integrated pest management, a strategy that greatly reduces but doesn't completely eliminate chemicals. Under IPM, a city would improve the conditions for plants by design or by improving soil so plants can naturally compete better against weeds. Workers chose to take care of problems manually -- for instance, pulling weeds instead of spraying. Chemicals are used as a last resort.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts tremendous effort into ensuring that pesticides are safe for use in public spaces, said Catherine Daniels, a pesticide coordinator with Washington State University and an expert on the safe and proper use of pesticides.
The EPA requires extensive testing of pesticides before they're put on the market and employs chemists and toxicologists who keep on top of new research about the effects of those products. In the past, regulators have been quick to tighten safety standards if researchers turn up concerns.
"I put quite a bit of faith into the EPA's effort that there is a reasonable safety standard," she said.
She also pointed out that integrated pest management costs more and that eliminating 100 percent of pesticides might not be practical.
"It's hard to run a government that way," she said.
The two-year project at Lowell is scheduled to wrap up this winter. So far, the pilot project has demonstrated at least one thing: It's hard to find volunteers.
Dunn, the project organizer at Lowell, said she has a committed but small group of helpers who come regularly.
Friday, those committed few were crouched in the dirt at Lowell Park, tugging at weeds alongside their neighbors. The 10-acre park looked at least as well maintained as other city parks.
One of the volunteers, Laura Wilson, has lived in Lowell 27 years. At first, the self-described "pitiful gardener" was a little intimidated about helping take care of such a large park. Now she's glad she gets to spend time with some of her neighbors.
She hopes city leaders expand the project to other areas of the city and perhaps get their hands dirty, too.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Friday June 24th from 12-2
Friday July 8th from 10-2
August 19th, 12-2, Ice Cream Social/Weed Pulling!
Weeding parties are fun and great way to meet your neighbors. Light refreshments and tools provided.
call Megan at 425-252-6265 or email: PesticideFreeEverett at gmail.com (replace the at with an @, posting it this way is to prevent spam!)
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Pesticide Exposure in Womb Affects I.Q.By TARA PARKER-POPE
Babies exposed to high levels of common pesticides in the womb have lower I.Q. scores than their peers by the time they reach school age, according to three new studies.
The research, based on data collected in New York and California from about 1,000 pregnant women and their babies, is certain to set off a new debate about the benefits of organic produce and the risks of chemicals found in the food supply and consumer products. The pesticides, called organophosphates, are commonly sprayed on food crops and are often used to control cockroaches and other pests in city apartments.
The latest findings are based on three separate but similar studies financed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Two were conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Columbia University and studied urban families in New York; the third was done by researchers at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and focused on children in Salinas, Calif., an agricultural area. All three were published online on Thursday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Each study began about a decade ago, when researchers recruited pregnant women who gave blood and urine samples that were used to measure pesticide exposure. In some instances, umbilical cord blood was tested. After the babies were born, the researchers continued to monitor the health of the children and also obtained regular urine samples to determine exposure to pesticides.
Over all, the studies found that women who had higher exposures to pesticides during pregnancy gave birth to children who eventually had lower I.Q. scores once they reached school age. In the Berkeley study, for instance, children with the highest levels of prenatal pesticide exposure scored 7 points lower on intelligence tests compared with children with the lowest levels of exposure. In that study, every 10-fold increase in organophosphate exposure detected during pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5 point drop in overall I.Q. scores.
“I think these are shocking findings,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai. “Babies exposed to the highest levels had the most severe effects. It means these children are going to have problems as they go through life.”
Dr. Landrigan compared the findings with research in the 1980s that linked childhood lead exposure to lower intelligence, dyslexia, higher risk for dropping out of school and a range of behavioral and developmental problems. As a result of that research, lead was removed from gasoline to prevent exposure from car exhaust, and it was also removed from paints and other consumer products.
The drop in I.Q. scores shown in the pesticide studies is similar to the drops shown in the earlier lead research, Dr. Landrigan said.
“When we took lead out of gasoline, we reduced lead poisoning by 90 percent, and we raised the I.Q. of a whole generation of children by four or five points,’’ said Dr. Landrigan. “I think these findings about pesticides should generate similar controversy, but I’m cautiously optimistic that they will have the effect of having the E.P.A. sharply reduce the use of organophosphate pesticides.”
Individuals can also do more to limit their own exposure. In homes with pest problems, sealing up cracks and crevices in baseboards and cleaning up food residue has been shown to be more effective at controlling cockroaches than using pesticides.
Steps can also be taken to minimize exposure to pesticides in foods, particularly among pregnant women. Buying organic foods can help because certified organic fruits and vegetables aren’t grown with organophosphate pesticides. Better washing and peeling of conventionally grown produce can also reduce exposure.
The Environmental Working Group offers a shopper’s guide showing which foods have the highest and lowest rates of pesticide exposure. Strawberries, peaches, celery, apples and spinach typically have the highest levels of pesticide residue among commercially grown fruits and vegetables. Onions, avocado, frozen corn and pineapple had the lowest levels of pesticide residue.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Where: Lowell Neighborhood Park
When; 3-5 pm, Friday, April 22nd
Email PesticideFreeEverett@gmail.com with questions. Families welcome.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, April 22nd, we'll meet at Lowell Park and start off the Pesticide Free season. Time to be announced.
Sno-Isle Food Co-op in Everett is hosting a movie night, they are showing Human Footprint at 6:00 pm, free and open to the public. See their website for more details: www.snoislefood.coop
Saturday, March 12, 2011
The Office of Neighborhoods is working with the Lowell Civic Association to find out why public input and citizen comment was not considered before the trees were removed.