The conversation in my staff room this week was about the beautiful weather we enjoyed this past summer, and the multitude of butterflies which graced our province. Up until this summer, catching a glimpse of a butterfly was a rare treat, sort of like seeing a moose. And while moose are not an uncommon sight in our province, seeing one is certainly worthy of comment (particularly if it is standing in front of you on the highway!). This has also been the case with butterflies up until this summer. However, for some reason, we have been blessed as of late with an abundance of these ethereal creatures, in varieties which I have never seen before!
The reason behind this blessing of butterflies, I believe, is the recent ban on cosmetic lawn pesticides. In 2012, Newfoundland and Labrador joined the maritime provinces, Quebec and Ontario in banning the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides. While I have had some awareness of the effects of pesticides on our environment, the return of the butterflies following this ban has really opened my eyes to the dangers of these poisons.
Coincidently, in the middle of writing this post, I had to go to the Cancer Clinic for some routine blood work. As I was sitting in the waiting area, looking around for something to read, a pamphlet caught my eye. It is entitled “Pesticides and Your Health” and is published by the Canadian Cancer Society. After reading this pamphlet, I thought to myself, “Hmmmmm there I was getting all up in arms about how pesticides are killing our butterflies, but not stopping to consider the effect that they can have on MY health!” Many pesticides contain known carcinogens, and these chemicals are more harmful to children than to adults. According to this pamphlet, “…most findings to date indicate that exposure to pesticides likely causes less than 1% of cancer deaths.” I guess that we are supposed to take some consolation in knowing that relatively few people die as a result of exposure to pesticides. But in my books, even ONE death is too many….what if that death was you or your child? Is a lush, green lawn really worth it???