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The Canadian Cancer Society’s perspective on pesticides

Cosmetic use of pesticides

The Canadian Cancer Society supports a ban on pesticides used to improve the appearance of green spaces. The cosmetic use of pesticides provides no health benefit and may cause harm.

Golf courses and sporting facilities

We want the use of pesticides to be phased out at golf courses and sports facilities, especially where children often are, or if they are located next to residential and public areas.

Pesticides should be used as the last option, in the smallest possible amount and only where needed to make a place usable. People should stay away from treated areas for at least 48 hours after the last amount of pesticide is applied.

Home vegetable and fruit gardens

The use of pesticides in home or personal vegetable and fruit gardens should also be phased out. Although the pesticides you use at home may be milder than those used for agriculture and you may use them less often, there is still risk.

In the agriculture industry, there are usually more rules in place to reduce exposure, such as training for people who apply pesticides to properly use equipment that protects them, plans to reduce residue levels and pesticide drift and rules to limit access to sprayed areas.woman with a bug repellant spray

Non–cosmetic use of pesticides

The Canadian Cancer Society believes that pesticides should only be used when they are needed to protect our health, safety or food supply. They should be part of a plan that includes pest prevention, using pesticides in the lowest amounts possible and using safer choices.

The risks and benefits of the non-cosmetic use of pesticides should be considered for each situation. Where pesticides are necessary to protect our food supply or to prevent the spread of disease, we recommend that:

  • The choice of chemicals should take into account their potential long-term health effects, like the risk of developing cancer in later years.
  • Widespread chemical spraying should be used only as a last option to protect human health and safety.
  • If chemical spraying is needed, people must be warned about the risks and helped to protect vulnerable family members such as infants, elderly people and people with weak immune systems.
  • Guidelines that are based on evidence should be set up to help people decide which chemical treatments to use.

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