UNI's Good Neighbor Iowa works to reduce amount of harmful pesticides in state

UNI NEWS SERVICES – As the snows of winter thaw and grass begins to emerge, the Good Neighbor Iowa program is renewing its efforts to reduce the amount of harmful pesticides applied to urban landscapes.

Wakema Park
Wakema Park in Center Point, Iowa

The Center Point Parks and Recreation is the latest landowner to join the University of Northern Iowa project. Wakema Park, a five-acre park in Center Point, Iowa, will now be managed without the use of weed killers, adding to a growing list of more than 188 parks across Iowa where mowed turf is managed without pesticides in order to protect child health, water quality and pollinators.

“We are looking forward to this adventure, and are always interested in ways to increase safety,” said Center Point Parks and Recreation Coordinator, Molly Stuelke.

Common lawn pesticides, which includes herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, are linked to a number of adverse health outcomes, particularly in children, such as prenatal and childhood cancers, chronic illnesses, neurodevelopmental delays and behavioral disorders.

The chemicals have also been shown to pollute local water supplies, pose a danger to pets and undermine bees and other pollinators by reducing biodiversity.

Moreover, many pesticides are unnecessary, said Audrey Tran Lam, environmental health program manager for UNI’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education.

“This paradigm that lawns must be treated with chemicals to grow or look beautiful is not true,” Tran Lam said. “Committing to managing lawns without the use of chemicals is something individuals and institutions can do to improve the environmental health of our neighborhoods.”

Almost 350 institutions across the state have joined Good Neighbor Iowa, including 56 child care centers, 188 parks and 35 schools. The program has protected an estimated 20,000 children from pesticide exposure and prevented the application of about 62,000 pounds of the active ingredients in pesticides to Iowa watersheds.

For more information, visit goodneighboriowa.org.


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