…there was one brave woman and her very brave book. – 1999 New York Times magazine, on Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.
I grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore County where perfectly manicured lawns were (and still are) the norm. My lawn was regularly treated with pesticides. Once the lawn had been sprayed we had to remain off the grass for at least 24-48 hours. At the time, pesticide treatment went on without question. In retrospect I am appalled by how slow I was to realize the impact that practice could have on my health in the long run. I mean seriously, how did I or anyone else in my family not think of what it could mean for our health, especially since we had to remain off of the lawn days after initial treatment?
Rich, green and perfectly manicured lawns are almost a societal non-negotiable. To achieve that expectation we spray tons of pesticides on our lawns to create that perfect societal image. There is a tremendous disconnect or false belief that a product that is meant to kill small insects would have no residual impact on humans. Let me me just say – the dose does not make the poison.
Pesticides are meant to kill and have a residual and accumulative impact in the ecosystem. Just because we are not the “tiny bug” the pesticide is intended for does not mean we are immune to their impacts after years of exposure.
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring brought that issue to light in 1962 and generated public awareness and dialogue around the impact of pesticides in our ecosystems. September 27, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and although there is still a lot of work to be done, there is some great work emerging throughout the state on environmental health related issues. The Maryland Pesticide Network, a group that has been around for a number of years, has been fighting on pesticide related issues in Maryland. Additionally, the Maryland Environmental Health Network, a newly formed network in the state, is poised to bring valuable support to the fights against pesticides and other environmental health issues. These are two groups to keep an eye out for this fall as they will be important players throughout the upcoming Maryland legislative session.
If there is any year for the environmental community to really dive deep into pesticide related issues, let it be during the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring.