Weed and feed products are usually subject to governmental standards regarding safety. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency monitors their ingredients and ensures appropriate safety recommendations and labeling. Consumers should check to make sure the EPA has not issued any warnings against weed and feed products they are considering for home use.
Weed and Feed Indoors
The safety of any potentially toxic product relies on the ability of homeowners to control where, when and how it is applied. Weed and feed products are designed for use outside the home, on lawns. As people and pets walk across these lawns, they track the weed and feed wherever else they may happen to walk. This includes cars, places of business and especially the home, since it is in such close proximity.
Adults and Pets
According to the Thurston County, Washington Public Health and Social Services department, several recent studies have shown an increased risk of neurological, cancer and other medical risks after pesticide exposure. This concern was so great that the Canadian Medical Association issued a letter to the Canadian federal government in 2005 requesting that it reverse its allowance of combination herbicide/fertilizer product federal registration.
Children are especially affected by weed and feed safety issues, especially when they are very young. Children naturally like to run, jump, and play. When they are very young, they also like to put things in their mouths, play on the floor or in the grass and run around barefoot. Mindful parents will keep their children away from lawns after they have been treated with weed and feed, but may not always be aware of the hazards of the weed and feed that has been tracked into the house. Since all systems in children are still growing, and their exposure is likely greater than that of adults, the risks of future medical issues and effects are greater.
Weed and feed products, even when used responsibly, have a tendency to end up in the local water system. When rains occur, runoff from lawns collects and washes away. Traces are then found in local bodies of water, and sometimes even in drinking supplies. These chemicals can also leach through the soil into underground water sources. In Washington State alone, herbicides including dicamba, MCPP, 2, and 4-D were found in local water supplies in separate surveys performed by the Washington Department of Ecology and the U.S. Geologic Survey.
Weed and feed, in addition to being toxic, is also wasteful. Rarely does an entire lawn require weeding. Homeowners may unnecessarily be exposing their families to chemical risks while spending more money, time and effort than is required to take care of their lawn weed problems. Thurston County, Washington's Public Health and Social Services department recommends using separate targeted products for weeding and feeding, and only applying them strictly as needed, in accordance with package directions. Additionally, the studies they reported regarding in-house toxicity levels noted that levels were lowest in homes where residents made it a habit to always remove their shoes at the door before walking elsewhere in the house.