Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You're putting those Easter eggs WHERE?

This weekend, children across the country will be crawling across lawns and poking in flower beds looking for colorful Easter eggs. But before you start hiding eggs on your own property or looking for a public Easter egg hunt to take your children to, consider what chemicals might be lurking in the landscape.

Because of their very nature, Easter egg hunts may provide one of the most direct routes for lawn chemicals to make their way into the mouths of children. Kids pick up hidden eggs or other "treasures" and place them in a basket along with candy and other edible goodies. Eventually, those tiny fingers are going to make their way INTO the mouths of babes.

The EPA website explains why children may be more vulnerable than adults when it comes to pesticides in landscapes:

Children are at a greater risk for some pesticides for a number of reasons. Children's internal organs are still developing and maturing and their enzymatic, metabolic, and immune systems may provide less natural protection than those of an adult. There are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates.

Here are some other facts I found online about children and lawn chemicals.

CHILDREN & PESTICIDES - From Beyondpesticides.org 
  • Children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that make them more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxins. (x) 
  • The National Academy of Sciences estimates 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first 5 years of life. (xi) 
  • A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds home and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia by almost seven times. (xii) 
  • Studies show low levels of exposure to actual lawn pesticide products are linked to increased rates of miscarriage, and suppression of the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. (xiii) 
  • Exposure to home and garden pesticides can increase a child’s likelihood of developing asthma. (xiv) 
  • Studies link pesticides with hyperactivity, developmental delays, behavioral disorders, and motor dysfunction. (xv) 
  • Children ages 6-11 have higher levels of lawn chemicals in their blood than all other age categories. Biomonitoring studies find that pesticides pass from mother to child through umbilical cord blood and breast milk. (xvi)
I have wonderful memories of the Easter egg hunts that my sisters and I shared as children and I definitely don't want to be the Grinch that steals Easter. Just follow these simple suggestions to help make sure that your Easter is eco-friendly.

1) Have your Easter egg hunt in a chemical free landscape - Whether its your own yard or the yard of a friend, chemical free is definitely a better choice for a healthy hunt.

2) Make a call - If you plan on taking your child to a public park or other location for an Easter egg hunt, give them a call and find out what kind of chemicals they use on their landscape.

3) Wash up after the hunt - Take sanitizing wipes with you and wash your children's hands and any wrapped products that they picked up off the ground before they start chowing down on their Easter goodies.

For more information about

Easter Egg Hunts in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia

For more information: Children and Lawn Chemicals Don't Mix (pdf file)

Effects of Lawn Pesticides on Children and Pets

Earth Day Party for the Planet - April 22

Here's another great Earth Day / Earth Week Activity!

April 22, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the National Zoo

Special activities will take place in the "Zoo in Your Backyard" exhibit, just off Olmsted Walk near Asia Trail.

Eco-Craft Recycling is great, but reusing is even better! Find out how to turn newspaper into a plant pot and take home your own. You'll make a pot, fill it with soil and drop in some seeds—when you get home you can put it right into the ground.

Recycle at the Zoo FONZ has partnered with an outside company to collect and recycle Zoo visitors' cell phones, batteries, and accessories. For many working cell phones, MP3 players, digital cameras, calculators, Apple laptop computers, gaming devices, and external drives—FONZ will get money to support conservation! All other devices will be recycled under strict environmental guidelines, keeping hazardous materials from reaching landfills and harming human and environmental health.

Bring all materials to be recycled to the front desk in the Visitor Center.

Click here more information about Earth Day at the National Zoo.

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