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Pesticide ban to remove nearly 250 products from shelves to boost health
Maurice Cacho, cp24.com
Published Thursday, March 5, 2009 3:30AM EST
Environmental groups are calling the McGuinty government's banned list of pesticides a victory for people's health and the environment, even though homeowners will now have to find new ways of having a perfect weed-free lawn.
The province released a list on Wednesday of over 80 chemicals that will be banned in Ontario for cosmetic use including weed killer and 2,4-D. The regulations come into effect on Earth Day - April 22. The provincial legislation trumps municipal bans, which prohibit the use of pesticides.
"We're optimistic that the Ontario ban is really going to raise the bar," says Lisa Gue, an environmental health policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. "We can all celebrate that fact that this means healthier green spaces."
Restrictions will force everyone from homeowners to lawn care companies to use more environmentally-friendly methods. Over 250 products will now be banned from store shelves as part of the legislation.
The province will launch an education campaign to inform people of the ban, but enforcement will "likely" be through a complaint process, Ministry of Environment spokesperson Kate Jordan says.
For example, neighbours may be able to call the ministry if their neighbour is using banned pesticides.
Quebec is the only other province that has a ban on pesticides (20 chemicals). Several municipalities in the country - including Toronto - already have a ban on the use of pesticides but residents would still get their hands on products.
"The sales part of this ban is really a key advantage to the provincial action," says Gue.
There are, however, some exceptions. Golf courses are still allowed to use pesticides.
"That was disappointing to us," says Gue, but she points out that golf courses will be required to inform the public of which pesticides they are using on an annual basis.
Hopefully, this will encourage them to use safer, alternative lawn care methods, says Gue.
Pesticides designed for non-cosmetic use, such as those that kill stinging insects or control plants that are poisonous to touch are exempted from the rules. Consumers will, however, be educated on the effects of the chemicals.
For example, sheet of paper may say that a product used to control poison ivy can't be used to kill weeds on a lawn.
By 2011, those pesticides will not be available over-the-counter, Jordan says.
The rules shouldn't hurt the province's economy since many alternative products are produced locally, and the legislation will likely promote gardeners to create new skill sets and alternative gardening techniques.
"There is no reason retailers will want to give up their market share," says Gue. "They'll just need to switch to environmentally friendly products."