The City of Saskatoon is partnering with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society on the 2014 Be Pesticide Free campaign.
What is a Pesticide?
A pesticide is a substance that is designed to kill pests. Pesticides by definition are toxic because they poison the pest. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides. Common examples are RoundUp, Killex, Weed N’ Feed, and 2,4-D. Pesticides do not prevent pest problems; they only try to control pests once they are present.
Do pesticides pose risks to human and environmental health?
The use of pesticides is associated with negative impacts to both human and environmental health. Using pesticide-free alternatives to manage home and garden pests could improve air, water and soil quality, support biodiversity, and lower the risks to human health.
Pesticides can leach through the soil and end up in groundwater and surface water. Once in lakes and streams, they may become a threat to aquatic life. Some chemicals become more concentrated through the food chain, resulting in long-term negative effects to animals, such as an inability to successfully reproduce. In addition, fish and wildlife may accumulate concentrations of toxins making them unsuitable for human consumption. 
Articles in peer-reviewed journals, such as Canadian Family Physician  and Canadian Journal of Public Health , have also shown that pesticide exposure is correlated with negative health effects, such as cancer. In one extensive study done on the health effects of pesticides, the health impacts were found to be most significant for pesticide exposure during pregnancy, childhood, and for workers that frequently handle pesticides. As such, the authors recommend that exposure to all pesticides be reduced.
The health risks associated with pesticides depend on the toxicity of the active pesticide ingredients, as well as the amount of exposure to pesticides.
How can I lower my exposure to pesticides and protect others?
- Do not use pesticides on your lawn and garden. Chemical pesticides are poisons and should only be used as a last resort and with extreme caution.
- Check if your lawn care company or local home centres offer alternatives that are pesticide-free.
- Do not dispose of pesticides in the garbage or recycling. Rather, take your old or unused pesticides to one of the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Drop Off Days.
- Ensure items such as children’s toys, pet bowls, clothing, and food are put away before pesticides are applied by you, your neighbour, or a lawn care specialist.
- Keep pets, children and toys indoors before and after pesticides are applied.
- If you are using pesticides on your lawn or garden, make sure to read the label and select the appropriate product for your problem and follow proper health and safety procedures (e.g. wear protective clothing, measure concentrations accurately and in a well-ventilated outdoor area, only apply to target areas or plants).
- Do not apply pesticides when it’s raining (or when rainfall is expected), on windy days, or on days where the temperature is expected to exceed 27˚C.
- Do not spray your pets.
- Check in with your family members and neighbours before you apply pesticides to ensure they take the appropriate precautions.
- Post warning signs 24 hours prior to and 48 hours after application.
- Soak up spills with disposable absorbent materials (sawdust, kitty litter, rags) and discard safely.
- Get involved! Work with community organizations to reduce pesticide use in your community.
Find more details on how to reduce your exposure to pesticides.
Chemical pesticides are not a cure-all. Insects and weeds will never be eradicated. The safest, most affordable, and lowest effort alternative to pesticides is to develop a certain level of tolerance for some weeds and pests.
For more information on pesticide-free alternatives, visit: www.bepesticidefree.ca
 Bongyu, Pascal. (2012). Protecting public health and the environment: The need for a pesticide reduction bylaw in urban settings. A policy proposal for Saskatoon. Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Canadian Cancer Society, Lung Association of Saskatchewan.
 Sanborn, M., Kerr, K.J., Sanin, L.H., Cole, D.C., Bassil, K.L., Vakil, C. (2007). Non-Cancer health effects of pesticides: Systematic review and implications for family doctors. Canadian Family Physician,53:1712-1720.
Bassil, K.L., Vakil, C., Sanborn, M., Cole, D.C., Kaur, J.S., Kerr, K.J. (2007). Cancer health effects of pesticides: Systematic review. Canadian Family Physician, 53, 1704-1711.
 Arya N. (2005). Pesticides and human health: Why public health officials should support a ban on non-essential residential use. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 96, No. 2.