Thursday, July 19, 2012

Advertising Pesticides to Children

There is growing concern among parents, consumers, and organizations like our own about pesticide advertising targeted at children.
Pest World, the website of the National Pest Management Association has created Pest World for Kids where children can learn about the kinds of pests that can come in from the outdoors when "it's not pretty. Homes wrecked . . . people sick."  You can learn all about the kinds of pests that might infect your home and yard and their identification.  To be fair, Pest World for Kids is mainly educational, and in the mosquito and tick sections, there is mention of repellent but no endorsement or recommendation of pesticide treatment.  But the games are designed to make children afraid of insects and anything that might wander into their house.
This cartoon character, created by Mosquito Squad is a little more blunt about his endorsement of pesticide use.  Dread Skeeter, a pesticide applying superhero is in a number of YouTube videos, they're all pretty similar to the one posted here.

These advertising campaigns seem pretty unethical, but besides the parallels to Joe Camel, they highlight the trade off between reducing chemical use and risking ore insect bites or using pesticides to eliminate biting insects.  I (not surprisingly) would rather take my risks with mosquitos and ticks.  There were only 715 cases of West Nile (the main mosquito-born, scary disease in America) in the United States in 2011 (CDC). Lyme disease is considerably more worrisome with about 30,000 cases in 2010 (CDC), but teaching children about wearing close toed shoes, long white socks, and checking for ticks, is an important lesson that would probably, in the long run, protect children from ticks more than pesticide application in your yard.

The post from last week about the persistence of pesticide contamination in the environment and the affects this is suspected (and in some cases confirmed) to have in the human body are more threatening.  With pesticides being linked to learning disorders, cancer, autism and hormone imbalances, it seems like there are fewer risks associated with mosquito bites and having to check for ticks and even pulling goofy white socks over the cuffs of your pants. Here are some coloring pages for kids about protecting yourself from, checking for and removing ticks from the California Department of Public Health.

There are also some natural repellants like clove oil and garlic spray, and some products that claim to be safe and environmental like EcoSmart Mosquito and Tick Control.  You should always read the ingredients of products like this, and do some research about them online! You can also talk to your land care professional about these options (if you'd like to talk to an Accredited Organic Professional, use our database to find one near you)


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