Do lawn care products endanger the unborn?

July 1, 2004



A recent study indicates that exposure to commonly used agricultural and lawn care products, such as weed and insect killers and fertilizers, at concentrations previously thought to be without adverse health effects, caused injury to developing mouse embryos. The injuries observed included slowed embryonic development and a reduction in the number of cells comprising the embryo. In humans, such injuries could contribute to implantation failure, spontaneous abortion, and delays in achieving pregnancy.

The active ingredients tested included six herbicides (atrazine, dicamba, metolachlor, 2,4-D, pendimethalin, MCPP); three insecticides (chlorpyrifos, terbufos, permethrin); two fungicides (chlorothalonil, mancozeb); one drying agent (diquat); and one fertilizer (ammonium nitrate).

According to the study's lead investigator, in the absence of human data on the subject, "Women considering or trying to become pregnant should make every effort to minimize exposure to lawn and agrochemical products."

Greenlee AR, Ellis TM, Berg RL. Low-dose agrochemicals and lawn-care pesticides induce developmental toxicity in murine preimplanted embryos. Environ Health Perspect. 2004;112:703-709.