Are you an applicator for hire who applies fertilizer to lawns? Does the fertilizer you use contain phosphorus? If so, you need to be aware of legislation that can affect you. In 2010, Illinois Legislature passed a bill that restricts any applicator for hire from applying phosphorus-containing fertilizers to a lawn unless a recently conducted soil test indicates a phosphorus (P) deficiency.
Notably, homeowners are exempt from this requirement. Areas that are exempt include commercial farms, lands classified as agricultural lands, and golf courses. Product exemptions are discussed below. An Illinois Department of Agriculture Inspector noted that two applicators were found to be in violation in one week alone recently. Violators can find themselves charged with a penalty of $250 for the first violation. Penalties increase to $500 and $1,000 for second and subsequent violations, respectively.
Bagged fertilizer for lawns commonly contains phosphorus, so it is important to be mindful of this law. Phosphorus is needed for plant growth, but when applied in excess, run-off can occur. High levels of phosphorus in lakes and streams can lead to toxic-algae blooms. A dozen or so states have similar laws.
Look on the bag to see what the N-P-K ratio is. The "P" stands for phosphorus. It should be 0 if the product is to be applied to established turf. As mentioned, there are exemptions. According to the act, lawn repair products are exempt. Manure naturally contains a small amount of phosphorus but is exempt as long as phosphorus has not been added to it. Additionally, the product label (provided there is one) must say it is "manure". The terms "natural" and "organic" are not enough to allow the application. Manure is mentioned specifically in the act.
As stated before, applications of any phosphorus-containing fertilizer may be made commercially if soil test results justify the need. For more information on the standards for P fertilization for lawn turfs in Illinois, consult this article by Dr. Bruce Branham:
According to the rule, the required soil test shall be conducted no more than 36 months before the intended application. The Lawn Care Products Application and Notice Act (commonly referred to as the Lawn Care Act) can be found here:
Section 5a discusses fertilizer application restrictions.
Certainly, P may be applied
at the time of establishment without a required soil test. Perhaps any large
stocks can be utilized in this manner. Please keep in mind that in accordance
with the Lawn Care Act, phosphorus can be used on newly established lawns for a
maximum of two growing cycles. Then a soil test would be necessary.
Michelle Wiesbrook (mailto:email@example.com)
Pesticide applicators working in residential sites have likely been asked, at one time or another, whether or not the products being used are safe for pets. This concern should also extend to pesticides purchased and applied by homeowners.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension addressed some of these concerns in a recently published fact sheet: Protecting Your Cats and Dogs from Pesticide Poisoning. Some highlights from the publication have been slightly modified and are provided below.
Some common pesticides that can cause poisoning in dogs and cats are products used to control rodents; baits applied for slug and snail control; herbicides applied to lawns; and insecticides used in flea collars and spot-on products. The majority of these products, when used properly and applied according to label directions, should be safe.
Regardless of the circumstances, the label should be read before each application. Reviewing the label will ensure that the applicator has not missed any precautionary statements that may apply to the specific treatment site. Following some additional precautions, beyond those printed on the label, will further reduce a pet's exposure to the pesticide.
Steps to reduce pesticide poisoning in pets:
- Use mechanical and/or cultural control alternatives.
- When chemical controls are required, choose the pesticide that is the least toxic.
- Prior to application, remove any toys, water bowls and food bowls from the treatment area.
- Restricting pets from the application site is the most effective way to reduce their exposure to the pesticide. Keep pets out of areas (yard or home) when liquid or granular pesticide products are being applied.
- After the application, let the pesticide solution dry completely or let granular dust settle before allowing pets into the area again. The label may provide guidance on re-entry intervals.
- Discourage pets from licking, chewing, and consuming treated materials. Pesticide residues may remain on treated surfaces even after sprays have dried.
- Keep pesticide containers tightly sealed and store pesticides out of reach of pets. A good location is a locked cupboard. Many pets can figure out how to open doors in lower cabinets and therefore encounter pesticide containers or flea/tick treatment boxes. After use, deposit trash in outside trash containers.
- Put rodent and snail/slug baits in tamper-proof stations in areas that are out of reach. Rodenticides are poisonous to all mammals if swallowed. Secondary poisoning can occur if pets eat poisoned rodents. Consider using snap traps or other nonchemical methods rather than poison baits if you have pets.
Learn the Signs of Pet Poisoning
Because animals are unable to tell their owners that they aren't feeling well, they can't describe symptoms, or what they are experiencing, after a pesticide exposure. Instead, the owner or vet must rely on signs, or observations of physical changes, seen in the cat's or dog's behavior. Some common signs seen in pets after being exposed to pesticides include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, uncoordinated walking, and seizures.
If you observe any of these signs in your pet and have recently applied pesticides in or around the house or yard or through a spot-on or flea and tick collar treatment, seek advice from a veterinarian and consider bathing the pet to remove surface residue that could contribute to ongoing exposure, before taking further steps. If signs indicate a severe reaction, don't wait; take the pet to the vet immediately for assistance.
What to Do in Case of Poisoning
If you suspect your pet has been poisoned by flea and tick products or other pesticides, follow the label directions for first aid and take the pet to your veterinarian immediately. If you know the source of the poisoning, bring the label with you to help medical personnel determine the proper treatment.
You can call the National Animal Poison Control Center (University of Illinois) at 1-800-548-2423, the ASPCA Animal Control Center at 1-888-426-4435, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 in case of emergencies. A fee may be charged for services. When calling an emergency hotline, provide as much of the following information as possible:
- Your contact information, including name, address, and telephone number;
- Information concerning the pesticide exposure (when the exposure occurred, the amount of product swallowed, etc.);
- The species (cat or dog), breed, sex, age, and weight of the animal(s);
- The name of the pesticide your pet was exposed to, and;
- The signs of exposure your animal is showing.
The Protecting Your Cats and Dogs from Pesticide Poisoning fact sheet is available for download from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/g2260/build/g2260.pdf.
Be sure to view entire publication for additional information on pets and pesticide poisoning, including detailed information about exposure to pesticides used in flea and tick treatments.
Travis Cleveland (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
The following is a handout developed by the National Stakeholder Team for Pesticide Safety Education Program Funding. It was developed for use by Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEPs) and others to explain the educational efforts by PSEPs to homeowners and other consumers.
It is not intended to be used as a handout to consumers, but rather an informational piece for garden centers, pesticide companies, and other stakeholders that provide consumer products. It is available for download as a color pdf at http://psep.us/PSEP-Consumer-Flier-Final-3-7-15.pdf. The Team's web site at http://psep.us/ contains several informational items as well as minutes from their meetings. Phil Nixon represents the University of Illinois PSEP on this committee.
Teaching Consumers to Use Pesticides Safely
A mission of land-grant university pesticide safety education programs.
Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEPs) at Land Grant Universities educate individuals who apply or supervise the use of pesticides as part of their farm, commercial business, or employment. PSEPs also have a critical role in educating the general public on the safe use of conventional, organic, antimicrobial and other pesticides in and around homes, on landscapes, gardens, and pets, and near public, business and private places.
Consumers applying pesticides are faced with a wide range of topics related to the safe use of pesticides—for example, personal and family health, protection of pets and other non-target species, understanding the label and other pesticide laws, equipment calibration, storage, handling, waste disposal, and prevention of off-site movement. PSEPs teach these and other core principles of safe use so consumers can benefit from the pesticide products they choose to use while simultaneously protecting human health, non-target organisms, and the environment.
The first priority of PSEP consumer education is to teach safe and effective use of pesticides—the chemical component of IPM—in and around homes, on landscapes, gardens, and pets, and near public places. Safe use is taught within the framework of IPM—prevention, sanitation, accurate pest identification, monitoring, pest thresholds and a careful assessment of all appropriate control methods (biological, chemical, cultural, etc.) When the selected control methods involve pesticides—conventional, organic, antimicrobial, etc.—a strong understanding of safe use and handling practices is paramount, and PSEPs deliver this information in diverse ways, to homeowners, retailers, Master Gardeners, food safety advisors, medical professionals, public schools, communities and more.
Pesticide Safety Education Programs:
• Have a significant role in train-the-trainer programs utilizing Master Gardeners and County Agents who pass along their training to local constituents;
• Provide support to others who have opportunities to promote safe pesticide use by the general public: Garden Center Retailers, Health Professionals, Consumer Educators specializing in IPM in or around schools or homes, etc.;
• Educate consumers at public events such as County Fairs, Farm Safety Days, Plant Health Clinics, Farmers Markets, Retailer Workshops, Earth Days, and Library Reading Programs;
• Support pesticide safety education for school Administrators, Teachers, Staff, Parents, and Students;
• Provide input into policy decisions and answer questions from Trade, Consumer and Property Associations; Not-for-Profits; Local, State and Federal Governments; and Advisory Committees for Parks, Day Care Centers, etc.;
• Create or collaborate on pesticide safety education using Workshops, Mobile Clinics, Presentations, Training Manuals, Factsheets, Field Days, Videos, Lessons, Websites, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Ask-the-Expert, Blogs, and Radio; and
• Provide free, on-demand website access to pesticide safety education resources.
Phil Nixon (mailto:email@example.com)
In December 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the 23-page "Interim Report to Congress on Endangered Species Act Implementation in Pesticide Evaluation Programs" dated November 2014.
The November 2014 report was required by the 2014 Farm Bill and summarizes actions carried out by the agencies since receiving the April 2013, National Academy of Sciences' 175 page report, entitled "Assessing Risks to Endangered and Threatened Species from Pesticides."
As stated in the November 2014 report, the federal partners have:
- built a collaborative relationship among the federal partners;
- clarified roles and responsibilities for the agencies;
- improved stakeholder engagement and transparency during review and consultation processes;
- held two joint agency workshops resulting in interim approaches for use in assessing risks to ESA-listed species from pesticides;
- created a plan and schedule for applying the interim approaches to a set of pesticide compounds; and
- hosted multiple workshops and meetings with stakeholders.
The entire report is
http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/endanger/2014/esa-reporttocongress.pdf. The 2013
report by the National Academy of Sciences can be obtained at
Phil Nixon (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org), slightly modified from EPA documents.