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Important Reasons Not To Use Pesticides and Herbicides!

This is a post I wrote in the past that is very near and dear to my heart. Many of you may have missed it, and the old blog is not viewable on several browsers now, so I’d like to share it with you again.

Neighbors Spraying Pesticides


For a year we lived on 1/2 acre of land in Northern California wine country. We moved away from that area four months ago, in part due to this incident….

March 8, 2008

So I had to take a few days before writing this to calm down and write rationally. I’m rational now (as rational as I’ll ever be), and I’m going to to three things here: tell you a personal story about pesticides, tell you some of the other problems with herbicides and pesticides, and give you some alternatives for your garden. So please bear with me – don’t go away – this is important!

A Little Backstory…

We moved here back in May, to a beautiful little area next to a vineyard. As we settled in, we found that there was a cat living beneath our porch. Chatting with the neighbors one day, I learned that she’d been abandoned four years earlier by some bad tenants (they also left a dog that the neighbors took in).

First we gave her a name: Raisin, as she came out of the vines in the heat of the summer. Then we started feeding her, and spending time with her, slowing gaining her trust. After a few months of fairly hard work at it, she was happily snuggling next to us in our bed every night, right beside our dog Ellis.

We made a little opening in one of the windows, so Raisin could go in and out to do all her business. In other words, no litter box necessary. Raisin has been a happy indoor/outdoor cat ever since.

She was a dream cat, very low maintenance but full of love.

Raisin after gaining her trust

What Happened Wednesday Afternoon.

Normally Matt and I carpool on Wednesdays: I drive him to work and then go read until my Master Gardener class, then I pick up Matt and we drive home together. On a whim, I decided I just wanted to go home in between – basically I was sick, and I wanted to be home for a while. So I suppressed my guilt for spending extra CO2, gas, and money, and went home for a few hours of down time.

After an hour at home, I heard Raisin scratching at the door. Usually she pushes it open, so it was a bit strange. I went to open the door and she fell into my office convulsing, with little control over her muscles. Her face was ticking and twitching wildly, she was licking her mouth very strangely… it was scary, to say the least. I ran through a list in my head of all the things it could be: scared by a hawk or truck, bit by a snake or scorpion, or she ate something bad. But I didn’t ponder for long – I wrapped her in a blanket and dashed to the vet.

On the way to the vet, Raisin became worse. I brought her and the blanket into my lap, and she crawled into the smallest possible ball. Her body was hot hot hot. She was terrified. When I pet her, lots of fur fell out. She was becoming increasingly limp. I stepped on the gas a little harder.

I pulled up to the Humane Society and rushed her in, then I waited in the waiting area for about 10 minutes, my heart pounding as I spoke sweet words to our kitty. Finally the technician came in and took her vitals. She was running a high fever, breathing rapidly, and her whole body was now shaking out of control.

Not two minutes later the vet dashed in, did a quick check over, and scooped her up. She quickly said, “I’m taking her in the back. She has all the signs of being exposed to pesticides.” “Ah,” I said with a quivering voice, remembering I’d taken the above photo when I first got home, “they were spraying in the fields today.” With that confirmation, off she went with Raisin, saying behind her, “I’ll call you in 45 minutes. We’re going to give her an iv, medicine to calm her down, and a thorough bath. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t work.” And she was gone.

I left the office in a panic, called my husband who left work a little early, and we waited. And waited. An hour later the vet called, saying she’d been able to lower Raisin’s temperature, slow the convulsions, and she was no longer worried. She’d give her a break for a while, then try a very thorough bath to remove the pesticides. We could come get her between 4 and 5pm. Sigh of relief times ten.

Here’s what the veterinarian told me: The pesticide was working on Raisin exactly the way it is designed to work on insects. It makes the muscles twitch so that the body continues to heat up to the point of death. It happens to dogs and cats. And, I assume, it happens to the birds, frogs, toads, jack rabbits, coyotes, wild turkeys, and beneficial insects – all found outside our home and in the vineyard. I feel anger creeping into my soul now.

Raisin is doing well. She came home wet and mad as hell, she can’t go outside anymore, and we have to keep drugging her with muscle relaxants (to stave off the pesticide mechanisms)… But she is alive!

Boy am I glad I went home Wednesday. It saved this cat’s life, most definitely. Below, is one drugged-out kitty.

Drugged Out Raisin

Other Reasons Not To Use Pesticides.

The term pesticide includes insecticides, herbicides, and “any substance intended to control, destroy, repel or attract a pest.” (CDC)

1. YOU DON’T NEED TO! See my alternatives below, but in a backyard garden there is no reason to use them. None. It’s not worth the consequences to you and your family, your pets and your neighbors’, your soil, and your food.

2. You’re killing your soil. There is a saying “feed the soil, not the plant.” The soil is the essence of your crop: it’s where matter is eaten by macrobes and microbes (there are 1 billion microbes per gram in good soil), and pooped out in a form that your plants can consume. When you spray a pesticide, you’re killing all those macrobes and microbes you’ve worked hard to nurture.

3. You’re risking your own health. What I didn’t tell you earlier is that I have a terrible rash on my neck and face from holding Raisin, who had pesticide on her fur. It’s terribly itchy and it hurts, too. That’s the minor, short-term issue. Long-term problems include neurological problems like tremors, depression and fatigue, respiratory problems, cancers, degeneration of the retina, longer-than-average menstrual cycles, and reproductive issues. (Journal of Pesticide Reform, Summer 2006) The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10,000-20,000 physician-diagnosed pesticide poisonings occur each year among U.S. agricultural workers. The agency also believes that these are serious underestimates. (CDC)

The CDC has found pesticides in the blood and urine of 100% of the people it studied. The average person carried 13 of the 23 pesticides analyzed. (Organic Consumers Association)

4. You’re risking your family’s health. In 2004, an estimated 71,000 children were involved in common household pesticide-related poisonings or exposures in the United States. (EPA) Children are especially sensitive to pesticides, as they have a small body weight and their organs are still developing. And don’t forget that often these incidents happen inside your home: A Dallas study of children poisoned by pesticides at home found that 15 percent had absorbed pesticides through their skin from contaminated carpets and linens. (Texas Center For Policy Studies & Environmental Defense)

5. You’re risking your pet’s health. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, over 30,000 pet poisonings related to pesticides are reported to their poison control center each year. Dogs who live in homes with pesticide-treated lawns are more likely than others to develop bladder cancer, according to a Perdue University study.

6. It harms wildlife. Herbicides can kill and contaminate the food and shelter for many wild animals. Additionally, it has been found to cause reproductive harm in frogs. (Science News here and here.) And genetic harm in fish (Journal of Pesticide Reform).

7. It contaminates your food. One study showed that 70% of non-organic fruits and vegetables were be contaminated with at least one pesticide (Journal of Pesticide Reform, Summer 2006). It showed contamination in 95% of certain fruits and vegetables like peppers and apples, and 100% in milk samples. Once it’s in your food supply, you’re again risking your health (#3).

8. It contaminates our water. According to the US Geological Survey, 30-60% of wells were contaminated with at least one pesticide. By that same study, 14.1 million people routinely drink water contaminated with five major agricultural herbicides. None of these are removed by treatment plants. Additionally, runoff from farms and lawns can contaminate rivers, streams, and watersheds.

9. It contaminates our air. By walking through your lawn and into your house, you are carrying particles that then adhere to the dust in your home. Furthermore, pesticides can remain in the air and on surfaces in the home for 21 days up to several years. Pesticide particles can also be sucked into homes, offices, and schools via ventilation systems (Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides).

10. It doesn’t work. More than 500 species of insects and mites and more than 150 types of fungi (a 50 percent increase over the past decade) are now resistant to some pesticides. By spraying pesticides, you are treating the symptoms rather than the root cause of the problem. If your plant has aphids, for example, it may be vulnerable because it isn’t getting enough nutrients or sunlight. And without addressing the problem, you will have to continue to apply pesticides during each life cycle of the pest (sometimes several times per year).

Alternatives to Pesticides.

1. Let it Be. Society tells us bugs are bad. But you know what? You can create your own ecosystem right in your backyard if you let your creatures come into balance. Last summer I had aphids badly. I wanted to spray, but I decided to wait and see what happened. Lo and behold, one day I saw a ladybug. A few days later I saw another. Over the next several weeks, I saw many more, and one day the aphids were gone. Now I have soldier bugs and all sorts of beneficial creatures in the yard. (At least until the vineyard guys sprayed pesticides. Sigh.)

2. No Really, Let it Be. I had a zucchini plant with powdery mildew last summer. For months. Did you see how many zucchini I harvested? I’m sure it made the plant less productive. But do I care? What the heck would I have done with more zucchini?!

Ask yourself if it really matters. Do some of your apples in your apple tree have worms? Well, do you end up with too many apples at the end of the year that you don’t know what to do with them? Then why not share a few with nature? The birds that eat the worms will love you for it.

3. Treat the Soil. A healthy soil makes for a healthy plant. Make sure you give your plants some yummy black gold compost every year. Making a compost tea can bring back beneficial root microbes, increasing a plants resistance to disease (see more here, here, and here). And if you haven’t done so, do get a soil test to see just what is deficient in your soil – and then replace that nutrient.

4. Plant the correct distances apart. When plants compete with one another for light, water and nutrients, they become stressed. Believe me, I have a lot of aphid-covered brussels sprouts out there right now because I planted them too close together and I didn’t thin them well enough.

5. Weed. Ok, I’m not an avid weeder. I think sometimes weeds can be beneficial. For instance, my epazote weeds kept my tomatoes warm through a couple of mild frosts last year. But weeds will compete with your crops if they’re too close, and they may bring pests with them too.

6. Rotate Your Crops. Don’t plant tomatoes in the same place every year, as you will end up breeding a hefty population of pests that can rely on a steady supply of tomato year after year. Mix it up a bit. You can find a crop rotation diagram in most good gardening books, but essentially you want to rotate like-crops together (ie, don’t plant cucumbers where you planted zucchini last year). Make sure to do a three-year rotation at the least.

7. Interplant Different Crops Together. Similar to #6, you don’t want to have a big feast waiting for a pest, by planting a bunch of one crop all in one place. Confuse them by interplanting. For instance, I’ve planted scallions and carrots together, beans and radishes, herbs and flowers… the list is endless. Try planting herbs and native flowers with your veggies to draw beneficial insects, too.

There are some companion planting books out there like Carrots Love Tomatoes. Truthfully, I like the idea of these books more than I’ve liked the books. So my best suggestion is to try different things and see what works for you.

8. Research Your Pests and Alter Your Planting Schedule Accordingly. Carrot rust flies, for example, lay eggs in the spring. If you can delay your planting until after that time, you will have rust fly free carrots. Also, by germinating seedlings indoors, you will be planting hardier plants that can withstand a few bites from pests (whereas a seed planted in situ will be very vulnerable with just one or two leaves).

9. Pick, Spray (with water), Prune, Shake. Do the easy things first. Find a cucumber beetle? If you can’t stand that it’s going to cut a little hole into your leaves, hand pick it off the branch and squish it. Got spider mites or aphids? Spray em with a forceful spray on your hose nozzle (be careful not to damage your plants with too hard of spray). Tree have a pathogen concentrated on a few spots, like powdery mildew? Prune away the bad, make room for the new. And make sure to prune so that your tree’s branches aren’t competing with themselves or holding in too much moisture. Cucumber beetles too high to squish? Shake em down and squish em.

10. Other Organic Controls: Trap, Use Row Covers, Mulch, Bag Fruit…. There are lots. I particularly love The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control. It walks you through different crops, what pests they have, and what you can do to combat them. It also has a great insect identification guide, which I’ve found incredibly useful.

Raisin Adjusting To A Life Indoors

If You Or You Pet Is Exposed To Pesticides.

Time is of the essence. Don’t delay, go to an emergency room or veterinary hospital right away. When in doubt, just go!!!

Other Resources:

*Those of you in other parts of the world, please let me know what resources you use and I will add them here!*

Update: Raisin is doing well as an indoor cat. This is one loved and lucky kitty! She plays with toy mice, watches bugs and people outside from her window perch, and loves her brother, Ellis (our dog). After confronting our neighbors, we learned the pesticide they sprayed was Roundup.

Raisin Napping This Morning

As always, I welcome any ideas or resources you can offer!

Similar Posts:

59 comments to Important Reasons Not To Use Pesticides and Herbicides!

  • It’s just as shocking reading this second time around, and I’m so glad Raisin made a good recovery. Pesticides should be banned.

  • Meg

    I’m with Diana: this post was powerful the first time you put it up, and it still is now.

    Not that it makes a huge difference, as poison is poison, but do you have any idea which pesticide was being used that day? I am thinking that folks who Google looking for info about some nasty consequence like you guys experienced, or who search for info about using it, might find your post very helpful.

  • Diana, Thank you – I’m very glad, too.
    Meg, great suggestion – I’ve added a sentence above. The neighbor said it was Roundup – he was very defensive because he thought we were going to stir up trouble for him with the vineyard company, so he wasn’t forthcoming with information. Roundup comes in many forms, and I don’t know which one, or if it was mixed with anything else, but best to not spray anything potentially hazardous!

    The instructions for spraying with Roundup include wearing a mask, gloves, and goggles. When they spray it in the vineyards, they also wear full-body suits, shower directly afterward, wash their clothes in harsh detergent, and they are required to have their blood tested after spraying more than a couple of times. Awful stuff!

    And you’re totally right: the old post was found by many Google searchers – I’m very glad our story reached so many people, and will continue to do so!

  • I am so glad the outcome was favorable for you and raisin. I don’t understand why farmers expose themselves and others to these chemicals when there are viable alternatives available. This is the cause of many family arguments, my family being current and former farmers who truly believe that Organic is just a phase and we should be thankful for pesticides “Where would the world be without pesticides?” as my uncle says. Part of the problem is they over use everything. If a little works then spray the whole damn field! What a bunch of jokers!I am just waiting for one of my farming relatives to have health problems from exposure to chemicals. I don’t like to say “told ya so” but I am not above doing so!

  • Amy

    Poor kitty! Thanks for the info, we’ll pass that on. Nothing like a close-to-home story to drive the point.

  • Bettina Lauth

    Glad that raisin came out fine!

    We live in germany in a vineyard area. In fact my father was a vinemaker himself (A “sprayer” type). I can smell when and where they are spraying pesticides and on such days we dont go out for a walk.
    My hubby got sick from pesticides last year, with fever and all. He only touched some dandelions out there!
    We have a 2500 sqare metres eco-garden behind our shed. Every year some hedgehogs live in heaps of cut branches that we make for them.
    And every year we find some hedgehogs dead in the garden. After reading your post, I’m almost sure this is about the spraying neighbours. There is one specific neighbour (vinegrower) that uses the vineyard – pesticides in his garden, too. And as they think our garden ist too “weedy” they “generously” spray along the hedge that is between our gardens. Which killed half of the hedge.

    So thanks for your post. I will print what you wrote about the facts of pesticides and what harm it can cause, translate it and give it to the neighbours. I finally have to face this problem, he?

    About “pests” I see the same things in my garden: aphids are eaten by numerous bugs, there are so many beautiful (to me: scary) spiders, and between the weeds grows wonderful, plenty, food.

    Give raisin an extra kiss, please
    Bettina from Germany

  • What an unbelievable story. You forget about the impact on pets.

    I did post today an alternative for ant killer, if you’d like it. It’s likely in your kitchen: cayenne pepper!

  • When I was a kid, we had a dog who ingested Roundup, with fatal consequences. Back then, I don’t think people realized a) how bad pesticides really are and b) that there are safe options. Now, there’s no excuse for claiming ignorance or wantonly endangering people’s pets (not to mention the planet).

    BTW, I’m a dog person, but Raisin is a beautiful cat!

  • monica

    We lost a cat earlier this year. He was having seizure-like episodes every few hours. At first, they were more like he was playing on the floor, but as the week went on, they got much worse. They didn’t last very long either, but by the end of the week . . . It could have been chemicals, but we don’t know.

    Roundup is available at any retail store in the area here. Dangerous stuff. Just like these super bugs (Salmonella and E. coli) they just don’t want to die and with each exposure, they get stronger. I have noticed that there are lots more people with allergies too. Pesticides could be the cause.

    Give Raisin an extra treat. She is my favorite color, too. We have one named Smokey, who is also a stray.

  • I’m really glad Raisin ended up being ok. I volunteer at a no-kill animal shelter and we occasionally have cats and dogs that come in that need a lot of treatment for exposure to chemicals. Sometimes it’s because the owner can’t afford the treatment.

    I admire your ability to handle it so well. I think I prolly would have created problems. My animals are my world… I would be incredibly angry.

  • Rob, I think the reason lies in a couple of things: 1. It’s how they were taught and it’s scary to change because a lot of money is riding on it, and 2. The pesticide manufacturers are very powerful and pushy and they own some of the cheap seed to boot. When you use Round-up ready seed you have to use Round-up…. These vineyards are owned by a powerful billionaire who could care less about us.

    It’s convoluted, but basically we need to make it in their best (cash) interest to farm organically. Organic demand must increase a whole lot.

    This pesticide reliance all stems from having too many chemicals with nothing to do with them after the war… sigh.

    But yeah, their personal safety is something that should be high on the farmer’s list of priorities – even though it’s not on the list of land owner’s priorities. Maybe education should be included in the push for organic farming. Certainly we didn’t understand the full implications of it until we saw its effects on our animal (and me).

    I’d say we were in denial, because it was such a beautiful place, we liked our neighbors, …. And afterwards, we felt like we were at that point in the Erin Brokavich movie where we either moved, or someone like you said “I told ya so” when we got cancer or something.

    Educate the farmers and make it profitable for the companies. It’s the only way, other than legislation.

  • Amy, Thank you for spreading the word.

    Bettina, Thank you for sharing your story here. Wow. I do think you should do something. I know how difficult it is. One thing you should do is document every incident that has happened. And if your hubby or you gets sick again, make sure you go to the doctor and ask them to write a report. And then report it to the local agency in charge of such incidents. Here in the US there is one – we’d start at the EPA and find out who to call. You must have some such organization. It’s not right to make others sick.

    There are many, many pesticides sprayed on vineyards. Roundup was just one of many throughout the year. I have plans for another post that addresses the pesticides used on vineyards, since I did so much research. I will make sure to email you when I do post it, but you should do some research on your own because it may be making you ill in the long term as well.

    Raisin has had an extra kiss (or several!). Thank you! Be well.

  • Robbie, Excellent -thanks for pointing me there. I use cinnamon. And if cinnamon doesn’t work, I use natural orange cleaner.

    Monica, I’m so sorry about your kitty!! I will give her an extra treat. Give my love to Smokey.

    Aradia, I was extremely angry at the time. But striking out against our neighbor, the local farmer, would have done no good. It is not his fault, it is the fault of the company. And to strike out against them would take a lifetime of lawsuits against a billion-dollar corporation. I think it is most effective for me to educate others, and to vote with my own dollars… Hopefully someone else has it in them to do the lawsuit end of things as well!

    I’m so glad there are people like you who can help the many Raisins and Ellises out there – both our animals are rescues.

  • I’m SOOOO anti-chemicals and pesticides. But I’m also anti medical drugs.

    My 3 1/2 year old son has mild ASD (autism spectrum disorder), and it is likely that it was caused by a prescription anticonvulsant I took during pregnancy, which was reputed to be safe. There is now a class action against the drug company in question, and we are considering legal action – a full 10% of the kids whose mothers took this drug have ASD.

    I guess what I’m saying is we are kids playing with fire here. We THINK we know what the side effects of these chemicals are, but we don’t. Medical doctors who prescribe, and farmers who spray think they know, but they don’t. Truth is, we have no clue about what we are doing to our planet, our bodies, our children, and the environment.

    It isn’t just cats and dogs. It’s our sons and daughters.

  • Glad she recovered from the pesticides. A few years ago, I lazily pulled some weeds at my mom’s house. That evening my skin began to burn. By the next morning, both my arms and hands were covered up to my elbows with purple, blistery, burned skin. She had used Roundup a few days earlier and I didn’t know. It took over four months for my skin to heal and I am shocked I didn’t get permanent scars. That stuff is ba-a-a-a-a-d business.

  • Renee, yikes. I totally know how it felt, because my arms and face had burns after touching Raisin.

    Hey thanks for stopping by – it was lovely meeting you two this weekend!!

  • jash

    Monsanto makers of roundup. You may want to watch the film linked below, it gives some interesting insight into it all.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6262083407501596844&ei=i03KSMaTM4qqrgKpk63XAg&q=monsanto

    absolutely horrible stuff.

  • Jash thank you for sharing the link! I’d seen it before, but I’m sure others have not – it is enlightening. I appreciate your comment.

  • jeo

    Roundup is an herbicide. Unlike pesticides, it is not a nerve poison.

    I don’t doubt that some kind of pesticide was sprayed by someone, and Roundup has problems of its own, but Roundup would not be the substance that harmed your cat.

  • Jeo, Honestly, I thought so as well: we’ve been told that it is an herbicide and only works systemically on plants. However, after further research, I found out that this is probably not true.

    The neighbors did tell me it was Roundup that was sprayed. There are many formulations of Roundup, and it could be any number of those. It could also have been mixed with something else. We will never know.

    But if you do a search online for Roundup and pets, you will find many other examples of animals who have died or been seriously ill after spraying Roundup. (You will also find stories of humans having Roundup-related illnesses.) When I was taking a Master Gardener class, two people in the class of 30 had such issues – one pet died, the other recovered. Since writing this article, I have had many people write me with similar stories.

    The rural veterinarians we saw at the Humane Society were very familiar with these symptoms of pesticide exposure.

    And once I began looking into this further, I realized that there are several studies linking Roundup to neurological symptoms, liver damage, heart problems, cancer, etc, etc. The problem is not just glyphosate, but it is also the “inert” ingredients in the pesticide solution.

    In California, Roundup’s active ingredient (glyphosate) is the third most commonly reported cause of pesticide illness among agricultural workers, and the most common cause of pesticide illness in landscape workers. It is taken very seriously by agricultural workers. They wear full-body protection, goggles, and masks. And they follow a strict protocol for discarding their protection, washing their clothing, and testing their blood for exposure levels.

    Here is an article in the Journal of Pesticide Reform, which I found by quickly doing a Google search. There are many other such articles, if you’d like to investigate further.

  • Daharja,

    I’m sorry, I totally missed your comment earlier. “We THINK we know what the side effects of these chemicals are, but we don’t.” This is true. I was amazed when I started looking more into pesticides sprayed in the vineyards. I was amazed to learn that, among other things, Monsanto has called its pesticides biodegradable, when studies have show it to stay in the ground for years.

    I’m so sorry to hear that your son may have been adversely affected by the drug. It’s truly awful. We do have to be very, very careful with what we expose to ourselves and our environments. And we have to do our own research, because clearly the pharmaceutical and pesticide industries are looking out for their own interests, rather than ours.

  • H

    Herbicides can cause convulsions. I was poisoned by an herbicide used on extensive lawns near by home. This has caused me a great deal of long-term damage and one symptom is that I begin convulsing when exposed to other herbicides now.

  • H, Yikes – I’m so sorry! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

  • [...] in the snow, and prefers to be at home, snuggled up with his “sister” on the couch.  Raisin, who has probably never seen snow either, is generally fascinated from inside, but is also very [...]

  • [...] Matt and I were living in Geyserville, California, a town of 1,600. We had only recently brought Raisin into our home. A year ago I wasn’t sure what my next life step would be, and Matt [...]

  • Thank you for sharing your story.

    When I’m the only person in the neighborhood using organic lawn care it is easy for me to remember why I’m making that decision. Thank you for cementing that decision.

    Also, I am planning on digging my first garden this fall. I have been poking around for a few good books to get me started. I’m going to check out the books you reccomended.

  • Gruppie Girl, thanks for your comment. I’m glad there is useful information for you here. : ) I’ve just started up a new challenge related to gardening, and you may be interested. I’ll be offering lots of gardening information over the next few months.

  • Mary

    We have a sadder story. We have a 3rd grade son with prexisting allergies who has been harmed by the continuous spraying by 2 companies, a lawn and an aquatics company here in Palm Harbor Florida. Despite complaining to the Dept of Ag and the Dept of Entomology and despite an allergist certifying he will be harmed if pesticides/herbicides are sprayed within 1/2 mile (A spray notification list), our condo association not only continues to spray, but they hired an attorney who has threatened to sue me for “tortuous interference with the business dealings of the association.” He has sent 3 letters threatening to sue even after I filed a fair housing complaint. The state told me to talk to the companies directly and to give the lawn company a list.

    I just wish I could talk to someone who could help. There is no statute which will prevent them from harming my son. Lawn and ornamental care is such a big $$$ industry here that no one cares what it does to our children! This is a classic SLAPP suit as far as I am concerned……..

  • Mary

    “…It’s the only way, other than legislation.”

    Any legislators out there who care about our children?

    Incidentally, my cats were also ill initially, but I can keep them inside. I cannot keep my son inside forever.

  • Mary, I’m so sorry I’m just now seeing your comment! What a horrible situation you are in. I would suggest getting a heavy-duty HEPA filter for your home and taking off shoes before you enter your home. These will help keep your indoor environment free of those outdoor toxins. Toxins build up in your system, as do allergies, so the more you can minimize exposure to any toxins indoors, the more resistance you and your son will have when you are outside.

    I would also contact the EPA or, better, a local environmental organization who can tell you where to go next. You may find that there is someone locally working on this very problem. And you are more powerful if you work together.

    I wish you the best of luck.

  • What a powerful post and an excellent reminder why we should ‘just say no’ to pesticides. They don’t work, as you point out. I appreciate Audubon Seattle’s guide that says ‘Stop killing things’ as a tenant of healthy and sustainable gardening.

  • Lisa, what a great tenant – I love it.

  • Regina

    Beste Melinda, allereerst wil ik je feliciteren met het overleven van je kat, ik heb zelf ook een soortgelijke situatie meegemaakt met mijn kat, maar dat is een te lang verhaal. Ik vind je site ontzettend leuk en zeer nuttig voor mensen die wel iets aan het milieu willen doen, alleen is het Nederlands wat je gebruikt ontzettend moeilijk te begrijpen. Ikzelf ben bezig met het ontdekken van de neemtree/neemboom, daarvan kun je ook een goede insecticide maken, het werkt in ieder geval tegen de fungus onder mijn handnagels en onze honden hebben geen last van teken/ticks omdat zij elke dag een neemblaadje door hun eten krijgen ! Misschien een goede tip voor een ieder van ons die de natuur zo veel mogelijk wil behouden. Ga zo door natuurliefhebbers !!! Groetjes van Regina vanuit Curacao

  • victoria

    I was deeply touched by your story of Raisin, and am so happy he is doing well. I wish I could say the same for my cat Norton. My story is far more devious. In an attempt to stop open air burning (next door neighbor an officer of the law) sprayed my kitty with weed killer thru the screen at the window he always sat. That was 2 years ago. Norton has special vaccine every 21 days, and takes allergy med to prevent itching. He breaks out on his face from the burning effect over and over again. No responsibility was ever taken for what happened, I tried to do something, but to no avail. In fact am still being harrassed. I am looking for natural substance to put on his face when breakouts occur. I hope someone out there will be able to give me some good advice. Thankyou

  • victoria

    I have been a firm believer in not using any form of pesticides for my entire life. I have always had an organic garden, and have never had any problems. Even after using all this caution for my daughter, our family pets, and myself, I found myself fighting the same problem as you encountered for the last 2 years with my cat Norton who was sprayed with weed killer by a neighbor cop in retaliation for me complaining about his open air burning. I am located in a small town in Ohio, where what is allowed here they feel doesn’t affect the rest of our state, and have been allowed to get away with it. I have fought for open air burning for10 years now, and have made only slight progress. Norton had to have special made up serum for 2 years and now daily antihistamines to counteract the itching. I look forward to the day when the Lord God almighty takes care of the great molestors of our beautiful earth, and restores the natural order of things, as man haqs sought to do everything he can to destroy, both human and animal life on our planet, justice will be served for Norton, Raisin and all other critters that we have allowed to suffer so greatly. Speak up for the life of your children and family pets, because if no one does, the abuse will only continue,, thankyou for those of you who took the time to read my story. lavenderice@embarqmail.com

  • The other thing to be aware of is the cleaning chemicals you use in your home. For pets, one of the biggest items to watch out for is what is in your carpet cleaner’s bag of chemicals. Cats especially like to walk around on the carpets and then lick their paws. Make sure that what they are licking will not harm them. I started a GREEN carpet cleaning company in Clearwater Florida that uses 100% green cleansers to clean carpets. We don’t use anything that contains solvents, carcinogens or other toxins. No nauseous fumes either. Other carpet cleaners tend to rely upon the strength of the chemicals to get the cleaning job done, while we use less alkaline chemicals and more power cleaning equipment. Our equipment can, in fact, steam the carpet at up to 250 degrees! And, the hotter you can get the steam, the better it will clean.

  • Nancy

    You just reaffirmed what I, deep down already knew. Chemical pesticides have no place in our communities. We lost our beloved cat, Spot, to what we suspected was an encounter with pesticides. Spot was 7, healthy and beautiful. He was the kind of cat visitors would scoop up as they came in the door. A real love, he put his front paws around your neck and nuzzled your face. He was an outside-inside cat in a neighborhood where everyone but a few, that would be us and one family up the street, has their lawn sprayed for weeds. Out of the blue one afternoon Spot had trouble breathing and, although my husband raced him to the emergency vet, it was too late. I’ve seen robins here drop from the trees on two occasions. One was saved by a rehabilitator I took it to. She said the symptoms were the same as the wildlife rescued from the Love Canal NY area. I live in upstate NY and believe me the people here just don’t get it.

  • Nancy, thank you for sharing your story. And Victoria, you as well. I believe the more we all can tell our stories AND lead by example, the better our air will be. By showing that we can have voluptuous organic gardens without pesticides, and starting to build community groups around organic gardening and farming, we can change the way people think and act. My best wished to you.

    • Amani

      i am doing a project about pesticides and i would really love to interview you. if so that would be GREAT!!! please contact me at amanit21@homtail,com. btw, your story is so touching, and i have a friend that whent though the same thing with her dog.

      thanks so much!,
      Amani

  • [...] sound way to deal with cat waste is to let our cat go outside to do her duty.  But that proved unsafe for her, so we kept her [...]

  • Mary Saunders

    I have been getting cat litter made from pea pods and mint from

    Absorption Corp. in Ferndale, Washington

    Phone no. 1-800-242-2287

    Actually, I get it from a retailer near my house in Portland, but that is where the retailer gets it.

    They also have a litter made from pine.

    Regarding pesticides, severe poisonings are also a serious risk for medical personnel, who can also be affected when they treat severe poisoning cases.

    Pesticides are a reason for and a method of suicide. In India, men kill themselves when company promises of riches do not materialize, and the farmers are bankrupted.

    In China, women kill themselves with pesticides in agricultural areas.

    In other countries, independent scientists have been doing the research that proves harm, with replication studies in other countries by different scientists. It has become more difficult for these companies to prevent ordinary people from finding out these things.

    Also, you can see what is happening to aquatic life by watching a YouTube with Nicholas Kristof, of the New York Times, on Stephen Colbert’s show.

    Though the federal government is protecting and subsidizing some of these companies in major ways, their ability to protect these guys is lessening.

    Sec. Vilsack recently was booed by scientists when he tried to praise the companies that make these substances.

    Times are changing.

  • [...] then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Right around the time I rushed Raisin to the animal hospital as she sat in my lap dying from pesticides, Matt became fed up with his life of driving long distances to a low-wage job that required [...]

  • Daniela Z.

    Terrible!
    We have a lovely cat and living close to some farmers .. tomorrow I’ll go to ask what spray on their plants!
    I think it was a miracle you went home earlier that day!
    Thanks for this information.
    Daniela (Italy)

  • Lenny Hullinger

    Please create a lot more! This posting was so detailed and accurate. I seriously liked looking at this post. Thanks!

  • Cristina

    I do believe tenants should be informed as to when there will be spraying. One thing I always prided myself on when we owned our own home was that I never had to worry about pesticides or herbicides. Yes, we had black widows, daddy longlegs, weeds. But I taught my kids to be cautious, and perhaps they could pull a weed or two from the yard. I’d rather have that than bug spray surrounding my family.

    We don’t own our home anymore and must rent. It’s nice to have someone do the yard…except today. They sprayed herbicides ALL OVER. I had no idea. I had my son’s window open, too. Well, his praying mantis is still alive, which sits right at the window, so I guess not a toxic amount came inside. But it did smell weird.

    My kids went outside later and played in it. If only I had known. This was very upsetting to me later when I went outside and smelled a horrible odor. I watered the whole area down. It still smells like a chemical smell.

    What are we doing to ourselves and our environment?

  • Alexander

    Wow… I never realized how much of an impact this had.
    I’m glad your cat is better now, and your website is awesome :D
    Keep it up!

  • Dee

    Wow. I have been researching because my neighbors had a cockroach problem. Exterminators came and now they all seem to have come creeping into my apartment via a common wall in the kitchen where plumbing drains are shared. I have a cat and a dog and a son…. of course as well as myself so I can’t just go using any old pesticide I want. I must do something because I also cannot have roaches running around my kitchen where I prepare food. Despite sealing all openings, its to late. I now have an issue as well and have to deal with it. I checked on some studies and found that cypermethrin is absorbed @3% which was roughly 100 to 1000 times lower than an amount required to even produce symptoms… now I’m left to choose the lesser of 2 evils. I think what I’m going to do is board my pets, treat the house, air it out and deep clean with soap and water to remove any residue. I dont know what else to do with roaches… I found 2 on my kitchen counter when I got up for water…. nasty. One had an egg sac and I lost it. I have also found younger ones near my sink drain. Its supposed to have a “knock down” within 25 minutes of contact. I hope it works. I dont mind spiders and I’ll even let the odd lizard live in here once in awhile but roaches carry bacteria and occasionally virus on their legs and feet and can cause dysentary like symptoms as well as asthma and allergies. Yucky!!!!

  • Yeah, I heard that a lot of people use boric acid to help with their insect problems within the house. The problem is that this poison (while not harmful to large animals like people) can kill small pets. So be careful!

  • Ian

    I live in Australia and only just came across this shocking and tragic story.
    I believe many household chemicals should be banned, or at least a heavy licensing policy must be introduced by governments to stop ignorant people from using them.
    A good case in point was when I saw my next door neighbours cleaning up their yard before Christmas. The father was out with spray pack on back in short-sleaved shirt and shorts, spraying weedicide around merrily in a strong and gusty wind. The spray drift was going all through our yard and over our plants. Worse still was the fact that his son was following behind him with a whipper snipper (yes following him!)and throwing the newly sprayed chemical all over the place, including himself. He too was only wearing shorts. We will not be able to eat any of the vegetables we had planted near the fence now.
    Chemical companies are also very negligent with regards to the types of spray apparatus they sell these days. There are a whole range of noxious and potentially lethal chemicals that anyone can buy from a shopping centre. For instance there are the products that people can plug on to their garden hose to spray their lawn for weeds or insects. These are potentially highly dangerous, as chemical is drifting everywhere. This is basically allowing chemical to be forced through a large nozzle at very high pressure. In the wrong hands or even in a slight wind, chemical can drift across neighbouring yards, up on to rooves, and even on to pedestrians walking on the footpaths, children playing outside, and pets. Some people will even spray their yard while their children are playing there!
    There is also the potential for chemical to enter the public water supply if reverse pressure stop valves are not fitted to the mains pipe. How many of the people who purchase these products would even bother to check if they have a reverse pressure stop valve installed on their property?
    Now we find companies are developing those “time release” outdoor spray cans, where people can set them up on a table in their backyard and it forms a “protective barrier”, killing every insect within a certain radius. Wind can carry this chemical into neighbouring yards and across food, people, and pets. The companies tell us these chemicals are safe, but how many times have we heard that in the past? In the past even DDT was regarded as “safe”.
    There is also the potential with these products to greatly reduce the number of good bugs living in people’s gardens. Chemicals do not discriminate. They kill everything that they are designed to kill, and sometimes more.

  • Cheyanna

    It is such a touching story. I never knew that the pesticides would torture the animal before killing it. So sad.

  • Emily

    This past weekend I was seeking advice at a garden shop about how to deal with invasive bamboo taking over my lawn…we are having the hardest time digging it out, and I was hoping for a shortcut or two. The guy said, “Roundup.” The stronger kind, such as for poison ivy. Luckily I remembered reading this and other similar stories about pesticides. I have three dogs, so it’s just not worth the risk! Not to mention the cardinals, grackles, robins and mourning doves that like to hang out in my yard. Thank you for posting this great example of why pesticides are not the answer!

  • Becca

    Hey Melinda and other readers,

    I am shocked to had read what happened to your cat, and hope that she remains in good health.

    This morning I was enjoying the spring morning sunlight and meditatively photographing bees on a tree near my fence. I happen to live alongside a secondary road. To my horror, a ute drove past, spraying the weeds right along the fence line. This was a patch of weeds my housemate and I had hand-pulled a couple weeks earlier – some regrowth had begun.

    Even though it’s a near-still day, I could immediately smell the spray drift and nearly wept at the idea that ALL of our organic veggie beds adjoining the fence had also copped a misting.

    I am now investigating whether it’s possible to ask the council to NOT spray along this road – or at least around our property (I think my housemate did so a few years ago but have to check with her); or if there’s any legislation to prevent such spraying from happening at the resident’s request. I am particularly disturbed that no notice was given about the impending spray, nor given the opportunity to request for it not to happen.

    I am utterly perplexed as to why Monsanto-owned RoundUp/ Glysophate spray is even allowed when it poses such serious human health risks (let alone the overall damage to ecosystems). Has no one read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring?!

    http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/glyphocancer.cfm

    - Becca

    • Becca, I’m glad to hear that you’re looking into it. I do believe a lot of the problem is that people don’t understand the repercussions.

      And yes, Raisin is still happy and healthy. :)

  • Excellent post!

    I write on HubPages and several months ago published an article against pesticides and herbicides. Mine is not as thorough as yours, but I hope they both reach readers who don’t know the dangers. Here’s the link to mine if you’d like to read it: http://jayewisdom.hubpages.com/hub/Celebrate-Earth-Day-by-Not-Using-Toxic-Lawn-and-Garden-Products

    Roundup is one of the most toxic substances on Planet Earth, brought to us by Monsanto, maker of Agent Orange (need I say more?) and currently trying to take over the world’s supply of food seeds by patenting (PATENTING??) their GMO seeds, which must be used with Roundup and still aren’t fully resistant. Ask the families of those Indian farmers who sunk their life savings in Monsanto seeds, all their crops ruined, and they committed suicide! Still, it’s a battle trying to get the U.S. government (with its corrupted FDA and USDA) to label GMO foods so people know what they’re feeding their families. Support of the California 37 initiative on the November ballot is one of the most important food fights Americans face. If it passes, companies will be forced to label in that state, and it will be cost-prohibitive if they don’t do it in every state where they sell. PLEASE SUPPORT PROPOSAL 37!

    I’ll be following your posts from now on.

    Jaye Denman

  • Dorothy

    I share your concern about pesticides. But what I don’t understand is why, if you care about wildlife and your cat, are you letting your cat run loose outside? Wild bird populations have been devestated by domestic cats being allowed outdoors unsupervised. And cats live longer, healthier lives if kept indoors. Please don’t even think about suggesting that the domestic cat killing wildlife is “natural.” The domestic cat originated in north Africa. It is as natural as having a bengal tiger or hyenas prowling around a yard in a city in America.

    • Hi Dorothy,

      It is a very good question. Our cat was feral when we found her, and it took months just to get her to trust us enough to feed her. After many months, she began trusting us enough to play with her, then to pet her. Finally she did come indoors, but she freaked out (peed, meowed, scratched, heart raced) whenever we closed the doors and windows and she could not get out. It has taken some time and effort to “domesticate” her.

      Now she is an indoor cat, living happily in our city apartment. It’s difficult to imagine her ever being a wild cat, eating birds, frogs and mice. But she did not become a domestic indoor cat overnight. It took a lot of time and effort to get there.

      Melinda

  • [...] person, we have dogs and it just isn’t good for anyone. There are a million (or 10, as listed here on 1greengeneration) reasons to decide not to use commercial bug spray, or at least try to avoid it [...]

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