A Closer Look at Chemical Pesticides
Everyone knows there’s a negative connotation with the word “pesticide.” Whether you farm for a living and have a constant daily battle with pesticide use, or you’re a homeowner who’s just trying to keep pests out of the yard, you’ve heard the cautionary tales surrounding these chemicals.
But what exactly are pesticides?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pesticides are defined as chemical substances used to repel and destroy pests. “Pesticides” is an umbrella term that covers a variety of chemicals such as herbicides for killing weeds, insecticides for killing bugs, fungicides for the killing of fungi, and many more.
Pesticides rose to prominence after it was discovered they kept invasive species at bay, improved crop yields, and eliminated organisms that carried disease. However, while they can be useful in eliminating pests, pesticides often end up doing more harm than good.
Continue reading to learn more about the danger of chemical pesticides.
How Chemical Pesticides Impact the Environment
There’s no denying that pesticides are effective. In fact, pesticides can be quite beneficial. However, pesticides can quickly become dangerous and detrimental when unnecessarily overused. Many professional services and do-it-yourself homeowners spray pesticides several times a year because they feel they need to. But they end up doing more harm than good!
If you’re not careful about the products you’re using, you could be contributing to:
In powder form, pesticides can be carried by the wind and released into the air, thus contributing to air pollution and creating a possible threat for those inhaling it. In addition to this, they can also react with existing chemicals in the soil to form volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Without getting too complicated, VOCs take on a gaseous form and contribute to tropospheric ozone, which in turn causes heating in the atmosphere.
Common pesticides enter our water sources in a number of ways, the most common being through runoff and from our drains.
Runoff, or water from rainfall that doesn’t evaporate or absorb into the soil, can carry pesticides away from the application site. This flow of water eventually leads into storm drains or natural water formations like streams and rivers, where the chemicals are now free to pollute the water.
When we pour unused chemicals down our drains, they are carried through a series of pipes that get larger and larger until they reach the main sewer line, eventually ending up in wastewater treatment plants. These facilities purify water to be cycled back into the environment but unfortunately, they are not equipped to remove pesticides.
Pesticide Impact on Wildlife
Because of the pollution of air and water, we can also see an impact on the wildlife in the affected areas. One of the most devastating effects – many chemical pesticides end up targeting the wrong species, accidentally killing bees, butterflies, and other pollinator populations. Pollinators pollinate by transferring pollen from plant to plant – say that three times fast! This process is essential for your plants to produce new seeds and flourish; without these species, your garden will suffer.
You may think it’s not a big deal if you accidentally kill a few bees, as they are considered to be a pest by most people. But what does it hurt to kill a few bees? Actually, a lot. A world without pollinators is simply unsustainable – they contribute to about $30 billion of the world’s crop value. According to an article published by Growing a Greener World, pollinators are crucial to the growth of around 1300 plants we use for food and medicine, so their disappearances will be devastating to ecosystems around the world. Vice estimates that if bees were to go extinct, humans would have four years left to live.
If you’d like more information on the effects of pollinators on the environment, read our blog, Why The World Needs Bees.
How to Avoid Pesticide Overuse and Work Towards a Healthier Lawn
Using pesticides doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Here are the best ways to avoid pesticide overuse and work towards a healthier lawn:
1. Identify the pests you’re dealing with
To make sure you’re only eliminating the actual pest and not any harmless critters, familiarize yourself with the species in your area. The, determine what pesticide will target the actual problem. If you need help identifying, check out our pest encyclopedia.
2. Only use pesticides when necessary
Many pest control companies make quarterly visits to your home, but the reality is you only need to treat for pests once a year! Spraying quarterly is both unnecessary and harmful, so consider using an environmental pest control service that’s conscious of its pesticide usage.
However, if you’d like to avoid chemicals altogether, there are plenty of alternatives to using pesticides! Check out our blog on organic pest control methods for a more in-depth look.
3. Check the weather before using pesticides
Runoff has a huge impact on pesticides reaching our water sources. Because of this, be sure to check the radar prior to using pesticides and make sure there’s no rain in the forecast that could potentially wash them away.
4. Dispose of them properly
As stated previously, dumping pesticides down your drain is a big no-no. The best way to dispose of the chemicals is to use them, and to use them as instructed. If you’re unsure of how to get rid of them, call a waste disposal service near you to learn the protocol.
The Killingsworth Way
With spring quickly approaching, we know how important it is for you to keep your yard protected. At Killingsworth Environmental, we pride ourselves on our using environmentally conscious alternatives to chemical pesticides that will provide you with safe and effective treatment of pests and weeds. For a clean way to safely remove your pests, schedule a service with us today!