Weed and feed fertilizers are extremely popular among homeowners because they allow the homeowner to perform two lawn maintenance tasks (weed the lawn and feed the lawn) with one chemical application. However, there are inherent dangers in the use of these chemicals. According to the Natural Landscapes Project, "Of the 26 most widely used pesticides in the U.S., 12 are classified by the EPA as carcinogens. Americans use approximately 380 million pounds of pesticides per year."
Pesticides are poisons, these include: insecticides, which are formulated to kill insects; herbicides, which are formulated to kill weeds; and fungicides, which are formulated to kill mold or fungus.
Humans and Herbicides
Herbicides present in weed and feed products are toxic to humans, and the danger accelerates after repeated exposure to them. It appears that children are at a greater risk than adults due to their size (weight), and the simple fact that they play in the grassy areas of homes and parks, which puts them in direct contact with the toxic herbicides present in weed and feed products.
Weed and feed products are safety tested, however the tests do not show effects after long-term exposure to these products, nor do they test the effects on humans or the environment as the products break down after use. In the United States, federal law does not allow a manufacturer of products that contain pesticides to convey to consumers that the use of pesticides in their product is safe.
How Pesticides Reach Our Bodies
All of us are exposed to these toxic pesticides, as they reach us through the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the food that we eat and by direct contact with them. We bring the herbicides present in weed and feed into our home, because after walking on the lawn, we walk into our homes and traces of the weed and feed are present on our shoes.
Pesticides have been associated with prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Parkinson's disease, birth defects, miscarriages and sperm abnormalities. Lawn fertilizers and herbicides are entering our lakes and rivers. They go from lawns, to the storm drain, and then into rivers and lakes.
Pets, Wildlife, and Insects
Pets are also at risk due to their exposure to lawn fertilizers and herbicides. As the chemicals break down and enter our rivers, streams and lakes, aquatic life and wildlife are exposed to these toxins. These toxins are also harmful to insects, and there is an upset on the ecological balance of nature by the use of these chemicals.
What to Use
Apply products that use natural ingredients. Look for a slow-release product that contains natural ingredients. Compost is an alternative to toxic chemical fertilizers. Digging out weeds is an alternative to using herbicides to rid your lawn of weeds, and a healthy, dense lawn will also keep weeds at bay.