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Green Lawns Go Green: A Move Towards Green Pesticides

The Esmond family went on what seemed like an idyllic trip: a vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands, staying in a luxury villa on the beach. But soon after arriving at their villa, the whole family became critically ill; the father lost consciousness, and the mother and her two teen-age sons suffered seizures. It has been determined that the family was poisoned by methyl bromide, a chemical used in pesticides, but one that is banned by the U.S. except in agricultural use. It is odorless and colorless, and highly toxic, especially since it can easily become airborne as was apparently the method of exposure in this case. It is believed that the chemical was contained in the pesticide used to fumigate the unit directly below the unit occupied by the Esmond family. The mother has been released from the hospital and is currently undergoing occupational therapy. The father has regained consciousness and is in stable condition. The two teen-age boys, however, are still in comas in critical condition.

Terminix, the company which performed the fumigation and which is used by the rental agency for pest control services, had its contract terminated on April 6, 2015. The U.S. Department of Justice has initiated a criminal investigation into the matter, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is also investigating the family's exposure to the toxic chemical. To date, the EPA has learned that methyl bromide has been used at other locations in violation of environmental laws, although thankfully no reports of people becoming ill have been made.


This is the time of year when many people begin weekly trips to lawn and garden stores, buying everything from flowers, plants, and grass seed to weed killer, fertilizer and pesticides. The U.S. EPA estimates that Americans apply an astounding 90 million pounds of pesticides and herbicides every year in their efforts to get green, beautiful lawns. But the envy of their neighbors may not be all these amateur landscapers are getting; the chemicals from pesticides, weed killers, and fertilizers can drift across yards, and into windows and homes. The dangers from exposure to the chemicals contained in pesticides have been known for a long time. The use of pesticides has quadrupled since the end of WWII, and studies done with respect to exposure to pesticides used in agriculture have conclusively shown negative effects on the people living nearby.

Short of replacing lawns with decorative rocks, what can be done? Happily, there are natural alternatives to pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Green gardening and lawn methods--which do not necessarily mean stinky composts in the back yard--can be found in books and online. Not only will going green be safer for those using the yard, it will also be safer for the yard.


If you have become ill from lawn, garden or household chemicals, contact David Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
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