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Latest Research Reports -- Proper use of lawn care products are not a health threat

Posted by: turfadmin

December 2012
Contact: John Heinze, PhD

Environmental Health Research Foundation

A Nonprofit Research Foundation Specializing in Health and Environmental Science

Scientists Confirm  - -

Proper Use of Lawn Care Products Does Not Pose a Health Threat

Environmental Health Research Foundation presented research data on lawn care products and benefits to Connecticut Environmental Council reporting that the findings by noted scientists confirm that proper use does not pose a health threat.

CHANTILLY, Va., December 6, 2012— John Heinze, PhD and executive director of the Environmental Health Research Foundation recently presented the Foundation’s latest research findings on the use of lawn care products at the Connecticut Environmental Council’s annual meeting.  Heinze joined presenters from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, and the University of Connecticut.  Heinze presented his research as well as that of a colleague, Katherine von Stackelberg, Sc.D who is principal of E Risk Sciences and research manager at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.

Recently, von Stackelberg released findings on four of the most commonly used lawn care products. She reviewed research findings and data and evaluated the strength of the association between exposure and potential health effects. She reviewed the toxicological, epidemiological, and exposure data for bifenthrin, azoxystrobin, 2, 4-D and MCPA (a member of the same chemical family as 2,4-D).  Her findings were recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Toxicology (“A Systemic Review of Carcinogenic Outcomes and Associated Mechanisms from Exposure to Concentration of 2,4-D and MCPA in the Environment.”)

After completing the research, von Stackelberg stated, “I wouldn’t hesitate to let my children and dogs play on a lawn where lawn care products have been used as long as the products were applied according to their respective labels.”

Heinze presented von Stackelberg’s research as well as his research review of the scientific literature on the benefits of lawns, parks, and playing fields, collectively called “green spaces.” His findings indicate the positive impact to the environment from green spaces, including prevention of erosion and run-off; water and air purification; energy and cost savings; and freshening of air (oxygen generation). Health benefits included recreational space, stress reduction and increased physical activity leading to reduced obesity, improved health and increased longevity.

Heinze’s overall conclusions in the presentation were:

  • Evidence of risk from use of four of the most widely used lawn care actives (azoxystrobin, bifenthrin, MCPA and 2,4-D) was found to be marginal to non-existent.
  • There are substantial environmental and health benefits from healthy, well-maintained lawns, parks and playing fields.
  • Optimal benefits require healthy, well maintained lawns, parks and playing fields, which can only be achieved with the responsible use of lawn care products, including pesticides.

“As Dr. Stackelberg has noted on her report, significant research has been done on these products,” Heinze explained, “and the weight of evidence indicates very little potential for adverse health effects associated with environmental exposures.”   He continued, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency carefully monitors and approves lawn care products for use and has, over the years, eliminated questionable products from use on lawns.”  Heinze further explained that, as part of the pesticide registration process, U.S. EPA evaluates and in some cases conducts independent research to evaluate potential risks and define acceptable uses.  It has also determined that there is little or no health risk associated with exposure to bifenthrin, azoxystrobin, and MCPA—when the products are used as directed.

“Green space, particularly in urban areas, offers significant health benefits, which are described in the Environmental Health Research Foundation’s review of the literature.  Maximizing these benefits may require the use of products to ensure a healthy, thriving green space, and the goal is to use products with the greatest efficacy and the least potential for risk,” stated von Stackelberg.

The Environmental Health Research Foundation research reports along with von Stackelberg’s Journal of Toxicology article are available online at

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 About EHRF

The Environmental Health Research Foundation (EHRF) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan scientific research foundation seeking to improve the analysis and communication of health and environmental science. Its goal is to further the understanding of science related to health and the environment, and especially the interaction between the environment and human health. EHRF Executive Director John Heinze, PhD brings over 20 years of research, management, and communications experience to the EHRF. In addition to his expertise in microbiology, molecular biology, genetics, and toxicology, Heinze has authored over 35 scientific papers and presentations to international conferences and workshops. Since 1995, Heinze has served as a senior science adviser on health and environmental issues, including the communications aspects of such issues. A particular focus has been on communication of health and environmental safety information including activities ranging from those focused on single substances to broad issues affecting numerous materials.

About Katherine von Stackelberg

Katherine von Stackelberg has spent more than twenty years developing risk-based approaches to support sustainable decision making. An emerging focus area for von Stackelberg is developing tools and methods to evaluate ecosystem service tradeoffs associated with environmental management decisions. She serves on the U.S. EPA Board of Scientific Counselors, and is a member of the Scientific Advisors on Risk Assessment for the European Commission in Brussels. She is also a research manager at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis and is the co-director of the Superfund Research Translation Core.  von Stackelberg received an A.B. cum laude from Harvard College, and a Sc.M. and Sc.D. from the Harvard School of Public Health in Environmental Science and Risk Management.  She also serves as a consultant to the Environmental Health Research Foundation.

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