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  • Writer's pictureSophia Wang

Lawn Chemicals in Our Water

When treating lawns, if chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides are incorrectly applied, they can infiltrate runoff, which goes into various bodies of water in nearby watersheds. Fertilizers have nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, excess nutrients that can cause eutrophication in nearby water sources. Eutrophication is a phenomenon where the nutrients cause extreme algal growth in lakes and ponds, which eventually decomposes, producing carbon dioxide and lowering the pH of the water. The decomposers also use up much of the dissolved oxygen in the water, decreasing the amount available for other aquatic organisms.

Lawn chemicals such as herbicides and insecticides can poison wildlife, harming biodiversity. In addition, insecticides may target beneficial insects that control weeds and other insects. These chemicals can also be harmful to humans, as they can be absorbed through skin, swallowed, or inhaled, and when they’re being applied, the chemicals can settle on ponds, laundry, toys, pools, and furniture. Some types of cancer, immuno-response deficiencies, neurological diseases, and birth defects are associated with lawn chemicals. Pets are also at risk.

Ways to reduce the negative impacts of lawn chemicals are to read labels on the chemicals carefully, apply the products sparsely, try using organic alternatives or composting, use natural species, be aware when applying chemicals on a sloped surface, never use lawn chemicals before rain is expected, and allow liquid chemicals to properly dry.

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