News Item: TruGreen, Your Lawn, and Chemicals... Oh My!
(Category: Misc)
Posted by Admin
Thursday May 06 2010 - 08:40:51

Here are a few links that John asked me to post after a quick Facebook discussion about TruGreen and the chemicals they're using.

"Customer & Employee Health - 2,4-D
Does 2,4-D applied to control lawn weeds cause cancer?
Numerous research reports have concluded that the use of the herbicide 2,4-D does not pose a risk of cancer in pets or humans."

"Customer & Employee Health - Products
Are the products you apply strong or toxic?
The end-use dilutions and low application rates applied to customers lawns and landscapes (typically less than 0.5% active ingredient) result in a service that presents negligible health risks to our customers."

"Chemical Runoff
I have observed one of your employees applying lawn care pesticides while it was raining. Aren't you concerned about the environmental effects of chemical runoff?

Yes, TruGreen is very concerned about runoff. However, urban runoff of pesticides occurs primarily from off-target applications on impervious surfaces such as driveways, and this most commonly is associated with granular applications broadcast with rotary spreaders. The fertilizer spreaders used by TruGreen have an adjustable deflector to allow diversion of the application when applying products to non-target areas.

Though many pesticides are applied as dilutions in water and sprayed, the active ingredients are not highly water-soluble. Research has shown that grass, in fact, serves to retard the surface runoff of pesticides.

In addition, pesticide residues on grass degrade rapidly and are immeasurable within 30 days after application. These low levels present negligible risk, even with regular exposure. But, to be as safe as possible and to minimize exposure, we recommend families and their pets stay off treated areas until dry."

My neighbor objects to lawn spraying and claims he will have damage done to his flower garden if I use a lawn service. He claims herbicides drift for miles. Can you assure me his flowers will not be affected if I use your service?
Historically, plant-damaging drift of herbicides has occurred primarily from low-volume spraying formulations of somewhat volatile herbicides called esters. TruGreen only uses these chemicals in cold weather because the low temperature limit volatility. During the remainder of the year other formulations are used.

What's more, the lawn care spray gun developed and patented by TruGreen delivers large spray particles that drop rapidly to the ground. Field tests with the spray gun at Iowa State University using tomato plants found no evidence of herbicide injury at a distance as close as three feet from the spray swath."

"Product Use Statement
Families consider their lawn an extension of their home for personal activities and enjoy many benefits from a well-cared lawn. Promoting healthy growth and minimizing damage caused by pests and weeds often requires judicious use of fertilizers and EPA-registered products applied by trained, licensed specialists.

Each year our scientists, in consultation with a board-certified toxicologist, evaluate products using a "weight of the evidence analysis" to consider risks to our employees, children and pets, and the environment. We consider the following:

* Registration. Each product that we use on lawns must be registered with the EPA for use of lawn and landscapes before we evaluate it for TruGreen services.
* Allergies. We do not approve products that are known skin sensitizers or that may produce allergic reactions.
* Carcinogens. We will not approve products containing known or probable human carcinogens as defined by the U.S. EPA, the National Toxicology Program, or the International Agency for Research in Cancer.
* Groundwater. We do not approve products known or thought likely to leach to groundwater when applied to lawns.

The products we approve for company use contain the same ingredients found in lawn care products that tens of millions of homeowners buy annually at lawn and garden outlets. We ensure these products are applied safely according to federal, state and local regulations. The specific products applied to your landscape are detailed on your invoice with each treatment. The pest products, when applied to the lawn, contain less than 0.5% active ingredient and are considered practically non-toxic at these dilutions. Additional health and safety information can be found at the National Pesticide Information Center, a cooperative program of the U.S. EPA and Oregon State University.

We are updating our web site to include more information on each of the products that we may possibly use to service lawn and landscapes. We intend to fully explain and compare the inherent risks of exposure from our applications as a dilute spray versus the concentrate used in preparation of our spray applications. Should you have immediate questions regarding our services please email us at"

Information on 2,4-D courtesy of Wikipedia:
"This chemical has been observed to increase the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS...aka Lou Gehrig's disease) (see Burns et al. Occup Environ Med. 2001 Jan;58(1):24-30).

The amine salt formulations can cause irreversible eye damage (blindness); ester formulations are considered non-irritating to the eyes.

One study found that occupational exposure to 2,4-D caused male reproductive problems, including dead and malformed sperm.[4]"


"Different organizations have taken different stances on 2,4-D's cancer risk. On August 8, 2007, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a ruling that stated that existing data does not support a conclusion that links human cancer to 2,4-D exposure.[5] However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified 2,4-D among the phenoxy acid herbicides MCPA and 2,4,5-T as a class 2B carcinogen - possibly carcinogenic to humans. [6] A 1995 panel of 13 scientists reviewing studies on the carcinogenicity of 2,4-D had divided opinions, but the predominant opinion was that it is possible that 2,4-D causes cancer in humans.",4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic_acid

Hey wait... didn't TruGreen say they didn't use products thought to be cancerous and even referred to the IARC in their Product Use Statement? That's food for thought.

One other notable tidbit from the Wikipedia article:
"2,4-D continues to be used, where legal, for its low cost. However, where municipal lawn pesticide bylaws exist, such as in Canada,[2] alternatives such as corn gluten meal and vinegar-based products are increasingly being used to combat weeds."

Other links with information are included below.

"Pesticides in Homes & Lawns Showing Serious Health Risks"

"Consumer Complaints about TruGreen Chemlawn"

"Refuse to Use ChemLawn"

I honestly tried to find pro-TruGreen information and links online. Aside from one link to a TruGreen franchisee who incorrectly was advertising that TruGreen was being confused with ChemLawn and that they aren't the same (Chemlawn is just another brand of ServiceMaster that they've folded into the TruGreen brand) there was nothing to be found. Hopefully I just wasn't looking hard enough.

This news item is from Living Natural First Radio Show
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