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In 2008, golf courses were exempted from pesticide restrictions under Ontario’s Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act, in return for implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). To minimize use of pesticides, golf course employee training and IPM certification, registration of golf courses and annual reporting of pesticide use are required under Regulation 63/09 of Ontario’s Pesticide Act.
Fast forward 10 years: Prevent Cancer Now asked the Ontario Government and the IPM Council of Canada whether or not pesticide use had decreased on Ontario golf courses. Neither could answer.
As a result Prevent Cancer Now examined reports from 16 higher-end Ontario golf courses to determine whether use of pesticides had declined. Pesticide data archived on the IPM Council of Canada website was examined from 2010 to 2017. (For in-depth information and images access the Summary or Full Report.)
Prevent Cancer Now is very concerned. Many of the pesticides used on Ontario golf courses are convincingly associated with cancer plus a host of other problems including neurodevelopmental and birth defects, respiratory issues such as asthma, immune dysfunction, cardiovascular and neurological diseases, and disruption of hormone actions.
Collecting data and letting it sit is not a solution to healthier landscaping. The IPM Council of Canada missed and continues to miss opportunities to utilize its data, combine the data with other parameters (e.g. weather), share success stories and spread the learning.
Prevent Cancer Now has offered thoughtful recommendations to the IPM Council of Canada, course owners and superintendents; the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks; industry and academia; and citizens.
For the safety of staff, golfers, adjacent residential communities and environmental sustainability it is time for the golf industry to live up to promises made in 2008. Ontario golfers and neighbours of golf clubs should press for nothing less.
Newfoundland scientists examined cancer incidence in relation to exposures to ultraviolet light, arsenic, disinfection by-products, and chemicals used in agriculture and turf care. Significant relative risks of developing cancer in high risk areas compared with low risk areas were 1.5 fold, 1.25 fold, 1.8 fold and 1.5 fold, respectively for the four types of exposures.
Dad and the Dandelions, a film by Andrew Niskar, tries to unlock the mystery behind his father’s cancer. Andrew asks the question, “Could there be a connection between his father’s cancer and highly manicured golf course turf?”
Ground War, when play fields become battlefields
Andrew Niskar explores, in greater depth, the world of golf, lobbying by the chemical industry and citizen activism. “The rampant use of pesticides around the world may be far more damaging than he thought.”