FAQ

SECTION 1

General Information

SECTION 2

How To Get Started

SECTION 3

Glyphosate
101

SECTION 4

Activation Questions

SECTION 5

Common
Terms

Section 1:
General Information

What is Non-Toxic Neighborhoods Vision?

A world where children have an equal right to a safe and healthy environment. Within the commons, areas that we all share, the air, water, soil, parks, paths, buildings and food must be of the highest quality so that all can enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life. Alignment with the Precautionary Principle Ordinance requires the selection of organic and regenerative alternatives that presents the least potential threat to human health and the community’s natural systems.

What is Non-Toxic Neighborhoods Mission?

Our mission is to protect the health of every child from harmful pesticides where they play and learn by providing organic and regenerative landscaping management solutions.

Do you have a Parent Partner?

Non-Toxic Neighborhoods is a program of Farmer’s Footprint, a non-profit co-founded by Dr. Zach Bush with a mission to catalyze universal adoption of regenerative agriculture for the health of our species and planet. Non-Toxic Neighborhoods is our way of reaching out beyond the agriculture world and educate suburban and urban communities about the dangers of pesticides, like RoundUp. The same chemicals that are used at schools, lawns, parks, and athletic fields for weed control are being sprayed on our farms across the country. We want you informed about both and empowered to make change in your local community.

Who are your Organic and Regenerative Partners?

Section 2:
HOW DO I GET STARTED?

What is the first step we can take?

Download our PLAYbook and Organic Toolkit today!

Does Non-Toxic Neighborhoods provide organic and regenerative management training?

Yes! Sign up for organic and regenerative management training.

Do you have organic and regenerative landscaping policy examples?

Yes, please contact our team here.

What services do you provide?
  • Organic and Regenerative Management Training for land managers, city/county staff, landscape contractors, and school district staff 
  • Soil testing and analysis 
  • Organic and Regenerative policy drafting
  • Pilot park programs to demonstrate the benefits of organic and regenerative land management
  • Glyphosate alternatives and best practices in organic and regenerative land management
What is the process to get our children’s school to end the use of glyphosate and other harmful pesticides?

Start the process today! Download our Organic Toolkit to learn how to ban pesticides in your school district and campus.

Is there a test that will let me know if these pesticides are in my child’s system?

Section 3:
Glyphosate 101

What is glyphosate?

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in weed killer products such as RoundUp™. Glyphosate products are one of the most widely used weed killers worldwide on farms, schools, parks, athletic fields, golf courses, home gardens and lawns.

What is the history of glyphosate?
Glyphosate was first patented in 1964 by Stauffer Chemical as a metal chelator that was used to clean or descale commercial boilers and pipes (United States Patent 3,160,632). Glyphosate binds to and removes minerals such as manganese, zinc and cobalt that are vital to human and animal health (Johal 2009).

A second patent was filed in 1974 by Monsanto as an herbicide (United States Patent 3,799,758). Monsanto claims that glyphosate, which kills plants by disrupting the shikimate pathway, has no effect on humans because the shikimate pathway is not present in mammals. However, several studies now suggest harm to mammals from glyphosate based herbicides through a variety of different mechanisms (Myers 2016, Ibrahim 2016a).

I heard that glyphosate is registered as an antibiotic, is this true?
Yes, in 2003 Monsanto filed for a third patent on glyphosate as a parasitic control type antimicrobial, or antibiotic (United States Patent 7,771,736). This patent was granted in 2010. It is proposed that glyphosate be used as a treatment for microbial infections and parasitic control of various diseases such as malaria. The microbiota of humans and animals, however, plays an important role in their immune systems (Purchiaroni 2013). Glyphosate based herbicides may act as an antibiotic, harming beneficial animal gut bacteria (Ackermann 2014, Shehata 2013, Schrödl 2014).
A second patent was filed in 1974 by Monsanto as an herbicide (United States Patent 3,799,758). Monsanto claims that glyphosate, which kills plants by disrupting the shikimate pathway, has no effect on humans because the shikimate pathway is not present in mammals. However, several studies now suggest harm to mammals from glyphosate based herbicides through a variety of different mechanisms (Myers 2016, Ibrahim 2016a).
Is a glyphosate ban the ultimate goal?

No, a glyphosate ban is a step in the right direction but it does not equate to protection from other harmful and synthetic pesticide exposure in the landscape.

A second patent was filed in 1974 by Monsanto as an herbicide (United States Patent 3,799,758). Monsanto claims that glyphosate, which kills plants by disrupting the shikimate pathway, has no effect on humans because the shikimate pathway is not present in mammals. However, several studies now suggest harm to mammals from glyphosate based herbicides through a variety of different mechanisms (Myers 2016, Ibrahim 2016a).

The EPA says glyphosate is “safe”, so what’s the big deal?
It is true that the EPA continues to hold that glyphosate is safe for use. The courts and the scientific community believe otherwise. Glyphosate is almost certainly carcinogenic to humans. In 2015, the World Health Organization reclassified glyphosate as carcinogenic to humans.
What is a carcinogen?
Chemicals that cause cancer due to mutagenic effects resulting from exposure.
What are glyphosate alternatives?

Sign up to download the Organic Toolkit featuring our Preferred Products List.

Section 4:
COMMONLY USED SYNTHETIC PESTICIDES

What is the largest irrigated crop in America?

Traditional lawn care is an antiquated, brute force approach that lays down 90,000,000 pounds of pesticides each year*. It makes soil and grass dependent on chemical inputs (7). With over 40,000,000 acres of lawn and turf in the United States, grass is technically our third largest ‘crop’.

Comparison of land use in the US:

  • 40 Million Acres: Lawns & turfgrass
  • 5 Million Acres: All organic farms
  • 2 Million Acres: Yellowstone National Park
What is RoundUp?
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in weed killer products such as RoundUp™. Glyphosate products are one of the most widely used weed killers worldwide in farms and in home gardens and lawns.
What is SpeedZone?
2,4-D was first used in the United States in the 1940s. Agent Orange, an herbicide used during the Vietnam War, contained both 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. Dioxin, a by-product of 2,4,5-T, led to the ban of Agent Orange. 2,4-D is a “selective” herbicide used to control broadleaf weeds.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared 2,4-D a possible human carcinogen, based on evidence that it damages human cells and, in a number of studies, caused cancer in laboratory animals. 2,4-D sticks around in the environment. Depending on the formulation, it can drift through the air from the fields where it is sprayed or be tracked inside homes by pets or children. By the EPA’s own measure, 2,4-D has already been detected in groundwater and surface water, as well as in drinking water. Australian scientists reported in 2012 that it was found in more than 90 percent of samples taken from agricultural catchments bordering the Great Barrier Reef—bad news for many fish, for whom the herbicide can be toxic. It can also poison small mammals, including dogs who can ingest it after eating grass treated with 2,4-D(3).
Is it true that pesticide manufacturers have reward programs for farmers and landscape maintenance contractors?

Yes! You can see an example here.

Section 5: Common Land Management Terms

MECHANICAL

Mechanical or physical techniques either destroy weeds or make the environment less favorable for seed germination and weed survival. These techniques include hand-pulling, hoeing, mowing, plowing, disking, cultivating, and digging. Mulching (straw, wood chips, gravel, plastic, etc.) can also be considered a mechanical control since it uses a physical barrier to block light and impede weed growth(8).

BIOLOGICAL

Biological weed control involves the use of other living organisms, such as insects, diseases, or livestock, for the management of certain weeds (8).

CHEMICAL

A pesticide must be lethal to the targeted pests, but not to non-target species, including man. Pesticides can reach surface water through runoff from treated plants and soil. Contamination of water by pesticides is widespread. The results of a comprehensive set of studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on major river basins across the country in the early to mid- 90s yielded startling results. More than 90 percent of water and fish samples from all streams contained one, or more often, several pesticides (Kole et al; 2001). Pesticides were found in all samples from major rivers with mixed agricultural and urban land use influences and 99 percent of samples of urban streams (Bortleson and Davis, 1987–1995)(9). 

PUR

Pesticide Use Reports (PUR) are the records that include pesticides applied by licensed commercial pest management services. Each record contains the name of the pesticide product, registration number of the pesticide product.

IPM

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment(10).  While IPM was originally created to minimize risks to human health and the environment, it has now proven to be outdated.  This Is why NTN saw the need to move to a Regenerative Pest Management and away from an IPM and it’s outdated and toxic toolbox. 

RPM

Regenerative Pest Management (RPM) Regenerative land management does not allow the use of synthetic controls to manage pests in the landscape. RPM focuses on building soil heath to naturally choke out a majority of the weed and pest pressure by utilizing technologies and organic nutrients that regenerate the soil.   

NOP

The National Organic Program (NOP) is a regulatory program housed within the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. The NOP is responsible for developing national standards for organically-produced agricultural products. These standards assure consumers that products with an organic claim meet consistent, uniform requirements. In order to sell, label, or represent products as organic, operations must follow all of the specifications set out by the USDA organic regulations, including being certified by a USDA accredited certification agency.

ORGANIC
Organic is a labeling term that indicates that an agricultural product has been produced by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Use of sewage sludge, irradiation, genetic engineering, and most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are prohibited.
BIOCIDE
A chemical substance or microorganism which can deter, render harmless or exert a controlling effect on any harmful organism by chemical or biological means.
PESTICIDE

Pesticides are chemical or biological substances designed to kill, control or repel a variety of living organisms, such as insects (insecticides), weeds (herbicides), mold or fungus (fungicides) and rodents (rodenticides). They are poisons, and their use is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

CONVENTIONAL PESTICIDE

Conventional pesticides are all active ingredients other than biological pesticides and antimicrobial pesticides. Conventional active ingredients are synthetic chemicals that prevent, mitigate, control, destroy, or repel any pest from weeds to rodents. 

SELECTIVE HERBICIDE

A selective herbicide kills certain plants but not others. Herbicides labeled for control of weeds in lawns, for example, will kill broadleaf weeds like dandelions and thistles, but will not kill grasses.  2,4 – D is the most common “selective” herbicide used in broadleaf control in turf grass. 

PRE-EMERGENT HERBICIDE
Glyphosate is a re-emergent herbicide which prevents the germination of seeds by inhibiting a key enzyme. In some areas of the world, they are used to prevent crabgrass from appearing in lawns. Preemergent herbicides are applied to lawns in the spring and fall, to prevent the germination of weed seeds.
POST-EMERGENT HERBICIDE
Post-emergent herbicides are used to kill weeds after they have germinated.
BENEFICIAL ORGANISMS

Bacteria, fungi and arthropods in soil that break down organic matter into nutrients for plants or they can be insects which are beneficial to landscape health by eliminating pests or performing other beneficial functions. Often these beneficial organisms can be killed unintentionally by treatments targeting pest species or other harmful chemical treatments.

Are pesticides registered with the EPA safe?
No. The fact that a pesticide is registered by the EPA does not mean that it is safe; it simply means that standards have been established to minimize the risks associated with its use. Many widely-used pesticides were registered many years ago under less stringent standards than are used today. They can pose health risks, even when used and applied in full compliance with manufacturers’ recommendations and legal requirements.

 

Several pesticides commonly used in lawn care are classified as probable or possible carcinogens by the EPA. Some of these and other pesticides are associated with a variety of other health problems including damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous and endocrine systems, and acute skin irritation and respiratory distress (1). Infants and young children, whose body systems are still developing, are particularly susceptible to these risks, as are pregnant women and the elderly and infirm. Inadvertent exposure to pesticides can occur when they are applied without notice on neighboring properties, or in apartment buildings, schools or daycare centers. To limit the likelihood of inadvertent exposure and the resulting health risks, a number of state laws now require that individuals be notified when pesticides are being applied in these areas(1). 

 

The prevailing regulatory approach in the United States is reactionary rather than precautionary. Instead of requiring industry to prove their safety.

 

The cornerstone of pesticide regulation is a fundamentally flawed process of “risk assessment” that cannot begin to capture the realities of pesticide exposure and the health hazards they pose. EPA officials remain reliant on research data submitted by pesticide manufacturers. Before a pesticide is registered for use on a particular commodity or site, it must be approved for that use by the EPA. Tests are performed by the manufacturers to determine whether the product or its residues on foods presents unreasonable risks to people, wildlife, fish, and plants. U.S. EPA reviews the data submitted by the manufacturers and either approves or disapproves the studies. A summary of rejection rates for these studies shows that historically 20-50% of the manufacturers’ studies submitted for evaluation of pesticides are rejected as inadequate (4). During the delay while the studies are being re-done, the pesticide can be sold as before, even without knowing what the health effects of exposure might be.

A second patent was filed in 1974 by Monsanto as an herbicide (United States Patent 3,799,758). Monsanto claims that glyphosate, which kills plants by disrupting the shikimate pathway, has no effect on humans because the shikimate pathway is not present in mammals. However, several studies now suggest harm to mammals from glyphosate based herbicides through a variety of different mechanisms (Myers 2016, Ibrahim 2016a).

What is the difference between organic vs. synthetic fertilizers?

The main difference between conventional synthetic lawn fertilizers and slow release organics is solubility, or how quick they dissolve in water. Synthetic fertilizers dissolve rapidly, releasing nitrogen quickly into the soil. They promote quick “green up” and shallow root systems. They do not last very long, and quickly leach into ground or surface waters after a rain event, preventing most of the nitrogen from actually being absorbed by your plants. This causes pollution that can lead to algal blooms. Slow-release organic fertilizers, along with compost and compost tea, work by providing food to microbes living in your soil. These in turn produce nutrients for your grass. They are less soluble than synthetics, leading to less leaching of nutrients, and lessening the need for frequent fertilizer applications. A second patent was filed in 1974 by Monsanto as an herbicide (United States Patent 3,799,758). Monsanto claims that glyphosate, which kills plants by disrupting the shikimate pathway, has no effect on humans because the shikimate pathway is not present in mammals. However, several studies now suggest harm to mammals from glyphosate based herbicides through a variety of different mechanisms (Myers 2016, Ibrahim 2016a).

What cities have you worked with to date?

See our partner cities here.

How can I get our Home Owners Association to stop using glyphosate and other harmful pesticides?

We provide shareable documents and tools to start working with your HOA board sign up to download our HOA Toolkit.

Are there organic controls for fire ants?

Yes, please find our list of organic fire ant control by signing up to download.

Do you have non-chemical controls for weeds?

Yes. View our Weed Tech Control List below.

Our city aerial and truck mount sprays for mosquitos. Are there cities that take a more efficient and health protective approach?
Yes! Thankfully there is an increase of municipalities and counties that have stopped spraying pesticides to control mosquitoes as it has proven ineffective.   there may be serious environmental impacts caused by chemicals. While spraying for mosquitoes may provide a short-term response to the nuisance of mosquito bites, it does nothing to affect the larva present in standing water.
If you follow the label and only use pesticides in a targeted manner, isn’t that safe to do so?

No, compliance with regulations that do not themselves protect the public health and is not relevant to human health. Rather it is intended to protect from legal liability by hiding behind guidelines promoted by the EPA which unfortunately has been heavily influenced by the industries it regulates. 

There is now peer reviewed research on the negative health effects associated with chronic, ultra-low doses related to accumulation of glyphosate in the environment.

Isn’t glyphosate causing herbicide resistance?

Today, the general consensus of weed scientists is that herbicide resistance is inevitable when farmers and land managers rely too heavily on synthetic pesticides for weed management. “Sole reliance on glyphosate by many producers is believed to be the primary factor in the evolution of weed resistance to glyphosate,” according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. 

What is a super weed?

“Superweeds”— are herbicide-resistant weeds—often referred to as are nuisance plants that have developed resistance to one or more herbicides. 

Who are your Non-Toxic Neighborhoods advisors?

View Non-Toxic Neighborhoods advisors here.

What requirements do you have regarding the pesticides allowed in your organic and regenerative management?

The substance itself, or its breakdown products do not have an adverse effect on human health as defined by applicable Federal regulations. 

When it comes to organic pesticides, how can I avoid products that claim to be organic, and natural that are not?

Read the label, and check to see if the products are listed on Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) or listed as allowable by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Organic Food Program.

Is there a list of substances that are not allowed in organic pesticide?

Yes there is a list of National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances – Code of Federal Regulations

How are you working to communicate health concerns about environmental hazards and exposures?
Our Non-Toxic Neighborhoods advisors provide the scientific data, vetted and peer reviewed supporting research on the negative impacts of pesticides (link to research). Non-Toxic Neighborhoods actively organizes forums, conferences and listening sessions to engage with stakeholders about NTN’s efforts to address environmental justice, to provide solutions to deliver health protective policy outcomes.
Where can I find the supporting research to the negative health impacts of synthetic pesticides?

For negative health impacts of synthetic pesticides in general see the National Pesticide Information Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pesticide Exposures.

For negative impacts of pesticides on children’s health: The Center for Child Environmental Health Risks Research – University of Washington.

Do you support underfunded communities and low-income with populations with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures?
Absolutely. We prioritize cities that lack a dormant season for pesticide exposure and have at least 10% of residents living below the poverty threshold. Every child should be able to have access to have safe and glyphosate free green space in which to play and grow.
How is Non-Toxic Neighborhoods working to expand community and public access to scientific research and environmental health data related to the negative impacts of pesticides?
Our trusted team of advisors vets the supporting and peer reviewed scientific research and environmental health data that we share to ensure its veracity.
RESOURCES
  1. New York Attorney General, Pesticide Notification
  2. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. 136. FIFRA full text. NRDC’s 2,4-D: The Most Dangerous Pesticide You’ve Never Heard Of
  3. Laws Affecting EPA’s Pesticide Programs, U.S. EPA.
  4. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 40 – Pesticide Programs, Subchapter E – Pesticide Programs, U.S. EPA.
  5. Pesticide Reregistration Rejection Rate Analysis: Summary Report Order No. EPA738S95001, U.S. EPA.
  6. US Fish and Wildlife 2012
  7. Penn State Extension
  8. NCBI – Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: their benefits and hazards
  9. UC IPM