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7. Garden Chemicals And Cancer

Several common ingredients in pesticides and weed killers have been linked with cancer and Parkinson’s. A 2009 study found a higher incidence of brain cancer in children whose parents had extensive prior exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, either at home or at work.

The researchers identified the pesticides and herbicides classified by the EPA as probable or possible human carcinogens (including chlordane, heptachlor, tetrachlorvinphos, carbaryl, propoxur, lindane, dichlorvos, phosmet, and permethrin) as the likely toxins responsible the children’s cancer.

Parkinson’s is also being studied for links to pesticide exposure. One study found that people diagnosed with Parkinson’s are more than twice as likely to report pesticide exposure than people not diagnosed with the disease.


In-home insecticides have also been studied for links to cancer. One study found that elevated levels of two chemicals used in pest bombs, known as “total release foggers” or TRFs, were detected at high levels in the urine of children with leukemia. The EPA now tracks illnesses and deaths associated with foggers, and many states are working to get them reclassified as limited-use products.

Safer substitute: Learn to garden organically, and pull weeds by hand. If you have a pest problem in the house, do your best to control it with natural repellents, or at least without airborne sprays. If you have to spray or bomb, send everyone away and air the house out for a day before coming back in.

This list was written by Melanie Haiken for Caring and was last updated on October 9, 2012.  Photo by Alexis Mialaret/Flickr.

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1 thought on “Cancer-Proof Your Home: Gardening”

  1. Good Green Witch

    Unfortunately, the neighbors just blink at me when I talk about this. I did everything by hand, but it didn’t bring me any ladybugs. My method of ridding my plants of aphids using banana peels met with disbelief. I’ll keep talking and talking, maybe they will change one day.

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