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Urban Pesticides are
Regulated by Health Canada

Territorial Healthy Lawns Strategy

Precautionary Principle and pesticides

The Benefits of Pesticides

What about banning
pesticides for "cosmetic"
or "non essential" uses

Integrated Pest
Management (IPM) - The Right Approach

Pesticides and Health

What are inert ingredients in pesticide formulations

  Pesticides and Health Concerns
Are pesticides linked to childhood asthma?

On-going debate exists in the popular media and elsewhere about the link between childhood asthma and exposure to pesticides. Current research compiled from Health Canada and other accredited medical sources shows:
  1. Health Canada states "the exact cause of asthma is not known, but it appears to be the result of a complex interaction"1 of factors:

    • Predisposing factors (a greater tendency to allergic reactions to foreign substances);

    • Causal factors which may sensitize the airways (such as cat and other animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, workplace contaminants); and

    • Contributing factors, which may include cigarette smoke during pregnancy and childhood, respiratory infections, and indoor and outdoor air quality.

    There is a lack of research on the effectiveness of interventions to prevent the onset of asthma, according to Health Canada. Based on the epidemiological evidence, the following could contribute to a reduction in the incidence of asthma2:

    • Reducing exposure in the workplace to airborne contaminants;

    • Reducing exposure to passive smoke, both in the uterus and among young children;

    • Encouraging breastfeeding and delayed introduction of solid foods;

    • Decreasing exposure of young children to house dust mites, cockroaches and moulds through regular cleaning; and adequate ventilation; and

    • Decreasing exposure of children who have a genetic predisposition to asthma, to known sensitizers.

  2. Prevention against childhood asthma largely concerns breastfeeding and avoiding exposure to mites and cockroaches, animal dander and cigarette smoke2.

    • Results of a study of 5,000 children showed that breastfeeding might protect against asthma; breastfed children have a lower incidence of asthma and breathing difficulties.
1 Health Canada. The Prevention and Management of Asthma in Canada: A Major Challenge Now and in the Future.
A Report from The National Asthma Control Task Force.

2 Health Canada. The Prevention and Management of Asthma in Canada: A Major Challenge Now and in the Future.
A Report from The National Asthma Control Task Force.

Erroneous claims relating pesticides to childhood cancer

On-going debate exists in the popular media and elsewhere about the link between childhood cancers and exposure to pesticides. Critics erroneously attribute rising cancer rates in children to pesticides and argue that they should be banned.

Can exposure to pesticides cause cancer?

Only pesticides that do not pose an unacceptable risk of cancer in humans are registered for use in Canada. Detailed risk assessment and very large margins of safety are built into the human health evaluations that Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) carries out on proposed pesticides so that Canadians will be protected from risks such as cancer.

The first step in a human health evaluation is an examination of scientific studies to determine if the pesticide causes adverse effects in laboratory animals. One of the effects that are looked for is whether the pesticide causes cancer in animals. The majority of pesticides registered for use in Canada do not cause cancer in laboratory animals. If there is evidence that a proposed pesticide causes cancer in laboratory animals, a special type of assessment called a quantitative risk assessment is conducted to determine if the use of the pesticide would cause an unacceptable risk of cancer in human. PMRA's risk assessments consider how the caner is caused in laboratory animals and all potential exposures, e.g. food, water, workplace, that may occur over a lifetime. Only pesticides that are proven not to pose unacceptable risk of cancer in humans are registered.

Direct quotation from - Health Canada, PMRA web site:

Current research compiled from Health Canada, and other accredited medical sources, focus on physical activity and a healthy diet as beneficial in cancer prevention.

Health Canada promotes "Healthy behaviours among young people" - including physical activity and a healthful diet - as a worthwhile method of cancer prevention. "Avoidance of smoking, excess exposure to sunlight and early sexual activity" are also recommended.

Health experts - from the Dieticians of Canada to the Canadian Cancer Society - consistently advocate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains as one of the best ways to prevent cancer and heart disease.
Canada has one of the most rigorous regulatory systems in the world to protect all Canadians, including children.
Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), responsible for the pre-market evaluation, re-evaluation and special review of all pesticides, includes consideration of all population groups including adults, teenagers, children, infants and embryos; as well as extensive environmental considerations.

Safety factors or margins are currently built into the evaluation of pesticides as a conservative approach to assess the risk of products.

For cancer risk assessment, the PMRA uses a complex process that utilizes animal toxicology testing data and daily lifetime exposure estimates. This type of assessment is also used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the United States EPA and other government and academic organizations. It takes into account pesticide exposure from all sources, including food and water, and considering cumulative effects of pesticides that act in the same way.
What risks do humans and pets face after the lawn application of pesticides?
Canada's stringent regulatory system requires pest control products to undergo a rigorous testing and clearance process. These examinations include safety to the applicator and consumer, and the impact on the environment.
Before a product can be sold...
Current toxicological testing requirements assess potential impacts of pesticide use, including possible effects in children, the developing fetus, pregnancy and cancer.
Are golfers at risk from exposure to pesticides when playing on a golf course?
There is no scientific evidence that golfers face any health risks from the pest control products properly used to maintain golf courses. Once a liquid product is applied and the turf grass is dry or a granule product has been watered in, there is a very low risk of exposure to golfers or others who enter the area.

Quick Facts
The Hudson Institute declared that pesticides have been primarily responsible for reducing cancer rates because their use has introduced more fruits and vegetables into the North American diet. This view has been reiterated in a November 15, 1997, issue of Cancer magazine.
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