Pesticides, the chemicals used to get rid of bugs, can present real health concerns. The following tips can help you decrease the exposure you and your family have to these toxic chemicals.

Try not to use chemicals on your lawn. When you water, water for a longer period of time. This will make for a stronger, healthier lawn that crowds weeds out. An alternative to pesticides is herbicidal soap.  

Fruits and vegetables that are labeled "certified organic" means synthetic chemicals have not been used on them. If the grocery store you frequent doesn't carry organic fruits and vegetables, talk with the management about bringing them into the store or form a buying club with your neighbors. There are organic co-ops in virtually every region of the country; NCAMP can provide a list of such organizations for one dollar. Organic fruits and vegetables are also becoming more available in the frozen food section. However, be aware that if the label says the product is "natural" it does not mean the product is "organic." 

  • If you can't buy organic fruits and vegetables, choose produce that is locally grown.      
  • Make sure you wash all produce. If there is a waxy film on the skin of the fruit, wash it with dish-washing soap, or peel off the skin.      
  • Instead of chemicals to get rid of pests around your home, choose pheromone traps and glue boards. The NCAMP suggests if you feel you need to use chemicals, there are some that are less toxic such as boric acid, silica aerogel, or diatomaceous earth. These types of chemicals are effective in treating your home for roaches, ants, silverfish, and termites. Outdoors, various strains of a naturally occurring bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (B.T.) work against gypsy moths, mosquitoes, blackflies, and wax moths. Ask personnel at gardening centers or hardware stores to help you select an appropriate product.

If you do use pesticides that have a higher level of toxicity, you need to make sure you have good ventilation. Follow the recommended procedures on the label. If the product label suggests keeping pets and children out of an area for a period of time, you may want to double that time to make sure it will be safe.

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