As summer fast approaches, kids are spending more time outside. Getting outdoors and playing is a great way for kids to stay active. And a great way for us parents to keep a little bit of our sanity. Even if they're not with us, they will be spending time outdoors at summer camp or daycare. With all the time our kids spend outside during the spring and summer, there is something we never think about — the negative effects being outdoors will have on them. Pesticide use is something that we never think about, but we should be. Stonyfield Organic yogurt is starting an initiative to get parents to start talking about the use of pesticides in parks. Moms.com got to talk to actor and dad Adam Scott via email about his work with Stonyfield Organic and what we can do to get involved.
"To be honest I really wasn’t aware of the issue of pesticides on public parks and field, and when Stonyfield Organic yogurt approached me I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Over 26 million kids play on public grounds every year, most of which are managed using a chemical cocktail of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides," he said when asked about how he got involved in the project.
Pesticide use, especially in public places isn't likely something that parents are thinking about. But here's the reality: over a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States. While most of that is used for agricultural use (which is still very troubling) 11 percent is used for places like schoolyards and parks. These are all places where our kids spend much of their time during the warmer months.
Scott points out that "unfortunately, kids are particularly susceptible to the effects of these pesticides." A 2004 report from the National Cancer Institute confirms that "current exposures pesticides adversely affect human health." And that isn't just talking about people like farmers, who may work with pesticides. This includes regular people being exposed, like children who play outdoors.
Usually our conversation about pesticides focuses on food. We go out of our way when we can to make sure our kids are eating produce that isn't doused in pesticides. Given that, it feels weird to not have considered that pesticides could be found other places, like the school play area, or your local playground.
"As parents, we’re naturally concerned about what we’re feeding our kids and if there was more awareness, I think we’d be just as concerned about what our kids are running on, playing on, and if you’re my kids—rolling around on," Scott mentions.
Health issues that stem from exposure to pesticides and herbicides are very serious. Glyphosate and 2, 4-D are two of the most common outdoor herbicides, according to Stonyfield Organic. So common, that there's a chance that if you have a yard or lawn, you may have them in your storage area. They are often sold as a fertilizer/herbicide mix.
Both of these chemicals have been classified as cancer causing agents by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015. Glyphosate was considered "probably carcinogenic to humans," while 2, 4-D is "possibly carcinogenic." The National Cancer Institute has found an association between exposure to herbicides and several cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, lung cancer, breast cancer and soft tissue sarcoma. They also contribute to issues with the endocrine system, which regulates the body's hormone production and can cause early puberty in kids.
When asked how parents can get involved in the initiative to clean up kid's play spaces, Adam Scott says, "I encourage parents to start in their own backyard. Literally. Switching your lawn care to organic maintenance can make a huge impact. On a larger scale, there are local groups, like Non Toxic Neighborhoods, that parents can join and help drive change in their local communities."
Stonyfield also has a ton of great resources and information on their website. As we talk about things like climate change and leaving behind a world for our children, this is a great place to start. We cannot say we're concerned with what we're putting inside our kids bodies, and not be concerned with what is being put in their bodies against our will.