Lawn and Garden Chemicals
Hazards of lawn and garden chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and safer alternatives
Why be Concerned?
- Pesticides, such as insecticides, weed killers, and slug bait, contain toxic ingredients. Often these products are toxic by ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact.
- Mixing pesticide concentrates can expose you to very strong solutions of active ingredients.
- Many pesticides are toxic to pets. Slug bait is especially hazardous to dogs.
- Many pesticides are also highly toxic to birds, bees, and fish. Most insecticides are toxic to all insects, including those that are harmless or beneficial.
- Some pesticides are highly mobile and can contaminate ground water or surface water.
- Despite their misleading name, so-called "inert" ingredients can be toxic, flammable, or corrosive. Sometimes they are more hazardous than active ingredients.
- Scientific studies show that pesticides applied to the lawn are tracked in to the home and can be found in carpet dust and on tables, window sills and other surfaces. Children pick up these residues on their hands and transfer them to their mouths.
What You Can Do
- Choose safer methods of dealing with lawn and garden pests. Read our FastFacts answers to common questions or explore Grow Smart, Grow Safe, a consumer guide to lawn and garden products.
- Support Washington Toxics Coalition.
- Sign up for our email alerts.
Read Our Fact Sheets on Common Outdoor Pests
- Tales from the North Side: Problems with Moss (500kb PDF file)
- European Crane Fly: Lawn Pest or Bird Food? (336kb PDF file)
- Removing a Lawn without Herbicides (216kb PDF file)
- Keeping Molehills from Becoming Mountains (80kb PDF file)
- Mosquito Megabites: Effective Mosquito Control (68kb PDF file)
- The Fruitful Northwest Home Orchard (80kb PDF file)
- Preventing Plant Diseases: Roots (40kb PDF file)
- Preventing Plant Diseases: Leaves (300kb PDF file)
- Lawn Care (38kb PDF file)
- Garden Insect Pests (40kb PDF file)
- Aphids: Safe and Successful Control (41kb PDF file)
- Protecting Your Plants from Slugs (90kb PDF file)
- Weed Management (39kb PDF file)
- Tent Caterpillars (42kb PDF file)
- Yellowjackets (48kb PDF file)
- Choosing Fertilizers for the Lawn and Garden (35kb PDF file)
- Appropriate Plants for Northwest Landscapes (36kb PDF file)
- Is This Pesticide Safe? How to Evaluate Your Risk of Harm from Using Pesticides (488kb PDF file)
- Fact sheets on pests and pesticides (Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides)
- News and alerts on pesticides (Beyond Pesticides)
- Look up hazards of pesticide products and ingredients (PAN Pesticides Database)
- Pesticide Information Profiles from EXTOXNET
- See what pesticides have been found in your streams
- Join the National Coalition for Pesticide Free Lawns
About Controlling Pests
- The Garden Hotline: individualized solutions to garden problems (managed by Seattle Tilth and sponsored by Seattle Public Utilities, the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program (LHWMP) in King County, and the Saving Water Partnership)
- Download brief fact sheets on common pests (Green Gardening ProIPM fact sheets)
- Learn about natural predators that control pests (Cornell University)
- Look up pest management strategies by pest (UC Davis)
- Portal for gardening information from WSU and elsewhere (Washington State University)
Although local practices may vary somewhat, generally speaking all unwanted pesticides are considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of at a household hazardous waste site. Legally registered products can still be used if desired. Banned or restricted ingredients such as chlordane, pentachlorophenol, and DDT are illegal to use and should be disposed of properly. Click here for information about disposal of household hazardous waste in your community.
Still Can't Find the Information You Need?
See our Toxics Hotline page for tips on navigating our website and how to contact us to get more information.