This content is sponsored by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection.
As Spring approaches and people start thinking about their lawns, it’s important for Montgomery County residents to understand the new pesticide law that went into effect last year. The law bans most synthetic pesticides, including “weed & feed” and pre-emergent products, used for lawn care. Only organic pesticides and herbicides can be used in the County. Violations could result in a fine.
Many chemicals found in lawncare products are harmful to the health of people and pets, as well as the environment. Exposure to certain pesticides has been linked to many serious health conditions in children including pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive functioning, and behavioral problems. Exposure for adults can cause Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, leukemia, lymphoma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and many cancers. Impacts on the environment include destruction of pollinators, aquatic wildlife, bird and mammal birth defects and mortality, and other unintended consequences.
Montgomery County is focused on educating residents about the law and what residents can use on their lawns instead of the harmful pesticides. County residents who must use a pesticide to control weeds, insects, or diseases in their lawns should look for any one of the following three items on product labels to be compliant with County law:
- “OMRI”– Certified by the Organic Material Review Institute for use in organic crop production.
- “For Organic Gardening” – Listed by the USDA for use in organic crop production.
- Products that have been designated as a minimum risk by the EPA, without an EPA registration number on the label.
Using organic management methods and avoiding the use of chemicals for lawns is not only better for people and the environment, but also healthier for the grass. Lawn maintenance goals are to increase the density of grass plants and provide healthy soils. Organic lawn care creates good conditions for important soil microorganisms to thrive, aerates the soil, and encourages deep roots. In addition, lawns that are treated with organic pesticides and herbicides help to store climate warming carbon in the soil, soak up more storm water, and provide more oxygen.
For more information about the law and to learn about organic lawn care practices, go to MontgomeryCountyMD.gov/lawns.