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Pesticides Linked To Childhood Cancer, Local Physician Says
[Rachel's Introduction: "The province should invoke the precautionary principle and ban cosmetic pesticides, a local physician urged the standing committee on environment Thursday."]
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By Teresa Wright, The Guardian
The province should invoke the precautionary principle and ban cosmetic pesticides, a local physician urged the standing committee on environment Thursday.

Pesticides have been linked to childhood cancer, said Dr. John DeMarsh in a submitted video presentation to the legislative committee.

He submitted two recent medical reviews of pesticides, both of which looked in detail at numerous studies.

One of them in particular, performed by McGill University and published in 2007 in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, found strong associations with cancer in children, he said.

"Their conclusion," he said to the committee from the review, "At this point in time, we can confidently state that there is at least some association between pesticide exposure and childhood cancer."

DeMarsh said there has been too much emphasis on toxicology when looking at the effects of pesticides on human health. Not enough has been done to look at the epidemiology -- which is a branch of medicine that studies the cause of a disease in large populations.

"Epidemiology is the single most important tool we have in our quest for the truth involving cosmetic pesticides," he said.

DeMarsh strongly urged the committee to invite an epidemiologist with an interest in this area to make a presentation.

On the opposing side of the issue, Robert Gallant -- who owns and operates Atlantic Graduate Lawn Care Pest Control Services -- also presented his arguments to the committee.

He said the word pesticides is a general term that needs to be defined.

"There are no pesticides registered out there that are for cosmetic purposes only."

Herbicides, insecticides, fungicides all fall into that category, he said.

"We need to actively define what is a cosmetic pesticide -- because these products are being used for many, many different things, not just for controlling weeds on a lawn."

In his own lawn care and pest control business, he needs certain pesticides and uses them responsibly, he said. And although some may say there are alternatives out there, he said he's already using them.

"We do use the alternatives -- they are the rest of the toolbox, but the rest of the toolbox is no good to me without the pesticide tool."

Stratford MLA Cynthia Dunsford, who sits on the committee, said she agrees with Gallant the term cosmetic pesticide needs to be defined.

"It really isn't an accurate term, it's true," she said. "I think one of the first steps in putting forward any recommendations is to clearly define what those parametres are. I know in other jurisdictions there are even lists."

The committee will hear more speakers on this issue next Thursday as they further examine the potential impact of a provincewide ban on the use of cosmetic lawn pesticides.

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