Earth Day is over for another year. Worldwide, people used this day to think about the delicate balance between humans and our environment. Millions took these insights to heart and took action to ensure that all people can live in harmony with nature. But what about the day after and each day following?
On the heels of Earth Day, the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon, is challenging all British Columbians to take Earth Day messages to heart. It is time to start using non-toxic methods to beautify lawns, gardens, parks and sports fields. It is time for British Columbians to enjoy recreational green spaces without being concerned about the adverse health effects of exposure to these non-essential chemical pesticides. It is time to speak up and take action.
Scientific research has found links between chemical pesticide exposure and an increased risk of both childhood and adult cancers. As the nationally respected and trusted voice on all cancer issues, the Canadian Cancer Society is committed to bringing these findings to the attention of Canadians. We are also committed to ensuring governments play a role in putting policies in place to protect human health.
The B.C. government is considering regulating the sale and use chemical pesticides used for aesthetic (cosmetic) purposes. We are concerned that government action may not go far enough. The B.C. government may rely on the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to guide its decision making when it comes to cosmetic pesticide use. The principles of IPM are vague and open to interpretation.
Of note, IPM allows the use of chemical pesticides “as a last resort”. We believe this approach falls severely short of adequately protecting human health. Including IPM in cosmetic pesticide legislation creates a situation where neighbourhood lawns and gardens, town-home complexes, and public parks and playgrounds could still be treated with these highly toxic products instead of using safer methods. We believe the health of citizens and the environment should trump the need to use these potentially cancer causing chemicals as a last resort simply to beautify our landscapes; especially when viable, non-toxic alternatives exist.
The Canadian Cancer Society is urging British Columbians to share their personal stories with the B.C. government as to why they support strong legislation banning the use and sale of cosmetic chemical pesticides, and remind government that including IPM is not the answer.
Imagine for a moment… a world where no Canadian fears cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society believes such a world is possible and we seek to create it by making a positive difference in the lives of all B.C. and Yukon residents touched by cancer. Do your part. Support the principles of Earth Day by joining the fight against cancer – tell your story by sending a letter, e-mailing or calling your MLA and Environment Minister Barry Penner by going to www.cancer.ca/bc/advocate.
Jerilynn Maki, MA
Community Action Coordinator
Canadian Cancer Society – Interior Region