City should justify use of dangerous pesticides

A few weeks ago, our family went to the playground at Durango Recreation Center. We were greeted by yellow flags adorning the grass where we usually play, warning that pesticides had been applied. The flags gave no information about what pesticides had been applied or how long it would be unsafe for us to play.

With a 10-month-old who loves to crawl and roll in the grass, we were more than a little distressed. We called the Department of Parks and Recreation to find out what was sprayed and what we found was extremely concerning.

The city routinely applies, among other products, Vessel Broadleaf. The chemicals in Vessel Broadleaf include dimethylamine salt of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, a compound that can be acutely toxic, is a possible carcinogen and a suspected endocrine disruptor.

Exposure can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, respiratory distress and dizziness. Vessel Broadleaf also contains dimethylamine salt of dicamba, which is a carcinogen, a reproductive and developmental toxicant, a groundwater contaminant and has high acute toxicity. Exposure can lead to loss of appetite, loss of weight, vomiting, depression and weakness. We were also very concerned to learn that Vessel Broadleaf has caused seizures, vomiting and other unfortunate symptoms in dogs.

It would be one thing to accept the health risks of exposure to such chemicals if the risks were strongly outweighed by the benefits, but we canít see what significant benefit we are getting from being periodically barred from our parks and risking toxicity to our children, our pets, our workers and the environment.

Are slightly greener lawns and fewer dandelions worth such costs to public health?

We urge folks to ask City Council to immediately terminate the pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer spraying program in Durango. At the very least we should demand that the city provide convincing justification for the program based on facts and science, not speculation and convenience. We deserve more information about when our playgrounds are going to be sprayed, what will be sprayed and how long our parks will be unsafe.

Maya, Jeff, Emmett and Zoe Kane


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