We should be able to consider our garden space safe and relaxing, as well as a non-polluted area in touch with the nature. However, there seems to be no escaping the modern world we live in today, with all the toxic materials we are breathing, toxins and polluted air are filling our gardens with toxic chemicals.
For this reason, it is important to recognize these pollutants and stay clear of them, especially if you’re growing edibles or your kids and pets use the garden for fun and frolic.
1. “Organic” pesticides
You should consider one thing: being organic doesn’t always make them non-toxic. Most of the pesticides that claim to be organic contain synthetic versions of different compounds (for example: pyrethrin), known as pyrethroids. They have an action similar to the human hormone estrogen, and repeated exposure can potentially cause breast cancer. It is important to avoid these toxic compounds because their inhibition of these enzymes can put our health at risk.
Herbicides are used in many gardens as they are often projected to be safe for animals. However, whatever kills weeds cannot be expected to have absolutely no impact on us and our pets, don’t you think?
There is the popular product Roundup ( I am sure you’ve heard of it) is known to kill fish when water runoff from sprayed gardens contaminate nearby water bodies. It can also cause bladder cancer in dogs and cats and possible health damage to humans.
3. Synthetic fertilizers
Natural and organic fertilizers like compost and manure are a great way to enhance the fertility of the soil. There are some inorganic fertilizers such as rock phosphate, limestone, and gypsum that also help in increasing soil fertility.
However, many gardeners are tempted to use synthetic fertilizers because they give faster results. What they don’t know, is that these synthetic fertilizers contain toxic heavy metals which contaminate the soil. Accidental ingestion of these toxic substances by children and pets has resulted in many casualties.
4. Plastic garden hoses
Garden hoses seem a great option because they are cheaper, lighter, flexible, and long-lasting, compared to rubber hoses. But their flexibility come at a price of our health, as they pose a health risk to pets and humans. The additives such as BPA and phthalates, used for making plastics are awful. Phthalates affect the development of fetuses and cause pre-term births. They easily leach into water and air because they aren’t strongly attached to the PVC.
Another toxic chemical found in plastics is BPA. It can cause brain defects and learning impairment, liver toxicity, and problems with prostate gland development in fetuses and young boys. So, remember that chemical exposure to these compounds can be very dangerous.
5. PVC garden boots
PVC boots come in attractive colors and designs, and people no longer use the old-fashioned rubber boots. When worn next to the skin, phthalates in the plastics get absorbed into the body.
Lead, cadmium, and such heavy metals contained in brightly colored paints also add to the problem. Lead has serious negative effects on brain development. Be careful and don’t be tempted as you might pose danger to yourself as well as your family.
6. PVC garden gloves
Garden gloves made of plastics are easier to work with, aren’t they? However, wearing them for a few hours a day can give you a heavy dose of toxins. So, next time you go buying a pair of garden gloves, make sure they aren’t PVC.
7. Vinyl fence
Vinyl fencing can be a constant source of environmental pollution in your garden. There are all kinds of natural materials like bamboo, wooden boards, or reclaimed lumber, which are natural solutions you can use.
8. Garden ornaments
Garden ornaments are amazing, decorative, eye-catchy, inexpensive,etc. But, have you ever questioned their quality? They are dangerous to our health because they contain toxic materials! Avoid buying figurines, wind chimes, bird feeders, etc., in plastic, especially when you have plenty of choice in wood, glass, stone, and terracotta.
9. Kneeling pads
These soft cushiony pads are usually made of PVC or plastic foam which leaches harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. If you can’t get hold of good quality rubber pads, avoid buying them altogether.
10. Plastic mulch
Used as ground cover to suppress weeds, plastic mulch is not natural at all, it’s made of actual plastic! Covering the soil with it, will give toxins and chemicals to it which can later enter into the food and poison it. Thick plantings of cover crops can suppress weeds almost as well as plastic ones!
11. Rubber mulch
Rubber mulch should be avoided in gardens because of its high chemical load, even though it is attractive. It releases carcinogenic compounds like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and phthalates into the soil and the atmosphere.
12. Cocoa mulch
A lot of gardeners love cocoa mulch for many reasons: it smells good, it is easy to handle, and it comes in attractive natural colors. It also makes an excellent ground cover, protecting the soil from drying out and it is sterile of weed seeds. I mean, what else can you ask for?
The problem with cocoa mulch is that it contains theobromine, the stimulant chemical that makes chocolate dangerous to dogs. The symptoms include muscle tremors, rapid heartbeat, and seizures, and it is often fatal.
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