Each spring, animals face an unnecessary danger: cosmetic pesticides.
These chemicals are used to control unwanted weeds and make lawns and gardens more attractive, but it’s increasingly clear that these benefits come at the expense of human and animal health.
The World Health Organization and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have published studies linking pesticide exposure to certain types of cancer.
More than 39 B.C. municipalities -- including Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Maple Ridge, Whistler and Kelowna -- have adopted bylaws to ban cosmetic pesticide use due to the risks to humans, pets and wildlife. However, without province-wide legislation to prevent the sale of cosmetic pesticides it’s likely that consumers will continue to buy them.
The BC SPCA has joined the Canadian Cancer Society in calling for a ban on the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides in B.C. The ban would encompass private lawns as well as sports fields, parks and playgrounds.
“Seven other provinces have already banned the sale of cosmetic pesticides and we believe B.C. should follow suit,” says Geoff Urton, manager of stakeholder relations for the BC SPCA. “The chemicals used in these products are highly toxic and present real risks to the health and well-being of our pets and wildlife species.”
Pets, like children, are at greater risk from pesticide exposure because they are closer to the ground. Worse, though, is the fact that animals can easily consume the chemicals used in products that kill weeds.
“If your dog or cat steps on grass that's been treated with pesticides, the next time he licks his paws he is ingesting poison," says Geoff Urton. “Or imagine a mother robin pulling a pesticide-covered worm from your lawn and feeding it to her newly-hatched offspring.”
It’s estimated that 25 per cent of B.C. households with a lawn or garden still use cosmetic pesticides. Until a pesticide ban is in place, take precautions to protect the animals in your care:
Pay attention to “keep off grass” and avoid areas where pesticides may have been used.
Wash and wipe your pet’s paws when they come in from outside.
Pay particular attention to between the pads where substances can become trapped in fur, and the undersides of claws, where chemicals can also become embedded.
End the use of cosmetic pesticides in B.C. Visit the Canadian Cancer Society website to email B.C.’s party leaders in support of a ban.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.