The Canadian Cancer Society is very concerned about the use of potentially cancer-causing pesticides for cosmetic purposes. Because of their potential for harm and because cosmetic pesticides do not provide any health benefits, we propose that municipal and provincial governments implement policies to ban their sale and use.
Our position is based on the precautionary principle, which states “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” Although the links between pesticide exposure and cancer are not yet conclusive, the body of evidence is persuasive enough to warrant the adoption of significant protective measures to limit public exposure to pesticides wherever possible.
The “cosmetic use” of pesticides refers to the use of pest control products for improving the appearance of non-agricultural green spaces such as lawns, gardens and sports fields as well as for controlling pests in and around the home. The term “cosmetic pesticides”, refers to a group of pest control products developed and sold for uses that would be deemed cosmetic.
Municipalities can prohibit the use of cosmetic pesticides, however only provinces have the jurisdiction to ban the sale of these products. Therefore, both levels of government need to take action.