Coalition releases position paper on pesticides and toxic substances

Frank Gale
Published on July 30, 2014

Aragorne Lomond loves that children can play in Blanche Brook Park in Stephenville without worrying about any poisons.

She was referring to the fact that no pesticides or other toxic materials are used anywhere in the newly developed park.

“Our gardens here in the park go to show that you can have a natural, beautiful garden without using them,” the Green Team leader said.

She admits maintaining a garden without the chemicals takes a lot of work, but said it’s worth it to have gardens without any help from outside sources, such as pesticides.

Bob Diamond agrees. He’s co-chair of the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides-Newfoundland and Labrador (CAP-NL), which has released a position paper on pesticides and other toxic substances.

“There are some beautiful gardens here,” he said while standing next to some of the beds of flowers and shrubs.

He said the paper documents the dangers of pesticides and other toxic substances, still widely used in Newfoundland and Labrador, and makes recommendations to better protect public and environmental health from exposures to the substances outlined.

It’s the organization’s wish that the provincial government will create tighter legislation on the use of several chemicals. These are known or suspected carcinogens or endocrine disruptors to which citizens of the province are exposed in their daily lives.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have the highest rates of cancer in Canada, and Diamond said this is simply unacceptable when there are healthier alternatives available than the use of these toxic substances.

CAP-NL is particularly concerned about exposures to polyaromatic hydrocarbons, plasticizers, flame retardants, non-stick chemicals, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls and chlorinated solvents.

The position paper asks that Tordon 101, currently used along highway and utility line corridors, be banned in the province and be replaced by environmentally sustainable alternatives.

The group is also asking that the provincial government follow suit with Nova Scotia and Ontario and enact a comprehensive ban on pesticides, including a “white list” of allowable pesticides. That ban would include green spaces such as sports fields, recreation areas and golf courses.

The organization is asking government to enact a provincial program informing the public of the dangers of exposure to dangerous pesticides and other toxic substances, and alternatives to their use.

The paper also suggests that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) be banned in the province due to what the coalition claims are the toxic, polluting nature of chemicals used and significant threats posed to the environment and to water and human health.

Diamond said the coalition has requested a meeting with the provincial Health and Environment ministers.