Is Your Yard Toxic to Your Baby?

Christie Haskell

Toxins are creeping around everywhere and we all do what we can to keep our babies safe, but did you know that the toxins in your yard can not only harm baby when she's outside, but once she's inside as well?

Which is why my lawn isn't the healthiest on the block. Sure, I don't water it much, but my weeds however (mostly clover and dandelions) thrive ... and attract bees.

My husband was stung on the foot on Father's Day two years in a row. So I worry about Aurora crawling off the blanket and into the grass. And my son is afraid to play outside after getting stung himself. I wanted to get rid of the bees, which meant ridding of the weeds. But the problem was: Every weed killer I found was extremely toxic to people and animals.

In fact, I discovered that simply keeping kids away from the treated area until it dries, as per the recommendations, wasn't enough to keep them safe from the seriously hazardous toxins.

Thurston County, Washington's Public Health and Social Services website discusses the particular dangers to children:

Studies show links between pesticides and serious illnesses such as cancer, reproductive problems, and neurological diseases. Although some of these studies were not designed to determine if pesticides caused these diseases, the studies do report increased risks.

In addition, there are special concerns about children. Their brains, immune systems, and bodies are still developing. Damage to these vulnerable systems from pesticides or other contaminants may alter how children develop and lead to life-long effects.

A journal from Environmental Health Perspectives examined levels of chemicals within 11 different occupied and unoccupied homes, before and after lawn treatment, and discovered that the chemical levels in homes with children and pets were significantly higher than in homes without. This was partially due to the fact that children and pets disturb the air and carpet much more than adults, meaning that the particles continue to recirculate in the household repeatedly.

As for your crawling or even just rolling baby? They also showed that these particles got on children's hands and toys that were on the floor ... which means, of course, even in their mouths.

Chemicals from these products are found in urine and blood of people and animals, and city water supplies, lakes, and rivers, and are potentially deadly to animals who eat your grass -- like your dog. Even worse, they anticipated and accounted for "spray drift," which is chemicals in your home... because your neighbor sprayed their lawn.

Manufacturers of products with active ingredient glyphosate, like Monsanto's Round-Up and Scott's Ortho, pride themselves on the fact that their product is most used on playgrounds and public parks quite effectively ... despite warnings from multiple health resources that warn against application anywhere children frequently play. Fortunately some cities are already passing motions to ban use of toxic weed killers in these places.

Aside from our children's health, there's even a big battle right now as we are learning the hard way that these chemicals, long term, damage root systems of plants they supposedly don't kill and even create "Round-Up Resistant" weeds, meaning lots of farms are having to go back to weeding more powerful weeds by hand, because they've bred super-weeds over generations of toxic chemical use.

So, what can you do to make your house not toxic for your babies and pets?

  • Stop using chemicals to treat your lawn.
  • Have a "shoe-free" household as chemicals from anywhere anyone has walked are brought inside on the bottoms of your shoes.
  • Cover flowerbeds with specific plastic meant to prevent weeds or an old shower curtain before filling with dirt.
  • Spot-treat weeds with a spray bottle filled with white vinegar, vodka, or rubbing alcohol.
  • Buy a Grandpa's Weeder ($20.82 on Amazon) and pull some of the biggest ones by hand.
  • Let your grass clippings stay on the lawn rather than bagging them up or add some mulch to provide nitrogen, which limits the number of clovers (my bane!).
  • Water your lawn frequently as the healthy grass will generally squeeze out most weeds.
  • Pour salt on areas you never want anything to grow, such as cracks between sidewalks, patios, and pathways.
  • Different combos of vinegar, bleach, and orange oil can be used at the plant's base.

Join the discussion at Healthy Moms for more tips!


Do you have any tips for safely maintaining a nice lawn?


Image via AmyConnor/CafeMom

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