If you choose to live in an apartment or condo complex due to its pet-friendly allure, make certain to insist that management does not use phenoxy herbicides, such as 2,4-D, on the lawns where you walk, play, and breathe. Most phenoxy herbicides, including 2,4-D, must be disposed of in the same manner as toxic waste would be; yet this same toxic substance is liberally sprayed on the lawns where dogs and children walk and play. And remember that these hazardous products are tracked inside on shoes and paws and are brought inside through the air via doors and windows.

As Dr. Oz advised in his "O" magazine page (January 2011), we should always remove our shoes before coming inside because lawn chemicals (herbicides) have been linked to certain cancers and neurological and reproductive disorders. Wouldn't it be better just not to use them? Dogs and cats can't leave their shoes at the door.

A decade ago, I asked Jean Schulz, the widow of "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz, if she would donate Snoopy in my quest to make him the non-speaking spokes-dog against toxic pesticide use for misguided lawn vanity (both herbicides and insecticides are pesticides). Mrs. Schulz, who cares about the health of children and dogs, took to the idea almost immediately because she shared my strong objection to the use of phenoxy herbicide products for "lawn vanity." I approached the Rachel Carson Council (RCC), a non-profit environmental group that continues Rachel Carson’s work, with my idea. RCC is noted for the scientific accuracy of its research and publications. The brochure RCC produced has the approval of Mrs. Schulz and features a wonderful illustration of Snoopy by Charles Schulz on its cover. You can view it on the web site www.rachelcarsoncouncil.org.

The chemical industry's average pesticide sales is $9.3 billion. Landscape industry's annual sales are over 35 billion, according to Beyond Pesticides. With so much money involved, such industries will, of course, assure us that what they use is "safe." Much more study, funded not by the industry itself, must be done.

A half-century ago, the noted biologist Rachel Carson alerted the world to hazards associated with pesticide usage in her landmark book, Silent Spring. Her concerns inspired the American public and led to the formation of the modern-day environmental movement. Carson warned, “we should no longer accept the counsel of those who tell us that we must fill our world with poisonous chemicals; we should look about and see what other course is open to us”(Silent Spring, pp. 277-8).

We can debate the studies regarding the safety of lawn chemicals (and pesticide product ingredients[1]) for years more to come just as the cigarette controversy continued decades after Sir Richard Doll linked cigarettes to lung cancer back in 1949. Only recently have we banned cigarette smoking in public places because of the hazards of second-hand smoke. Shouldn't there be rights to being free from the health risks of phenoxy herbicide and other "cosmetic lawn products"?

Such pesticides cannot be called "safe." When my landlord used 2,4-D on our lawns and my Irish setter died of cutaneous lymphosarcoma, I had to wonder about the connection. When my cousin's working dog, a German shepherd used to patrol the grounds at the Wexner estate, developed nasal sarcoma, my cousin's wife wondered if it could have been due to pesticides. When my other setter, Gracie, suffered ataxia, stumbling and collapsing with muscle weakness when exposed to lawn pesticides, I didn't have to wonder what caused it: I knew. Gracie was perfectly fine when she wasn't on or around pesticide-treated areas.

Part of the reason I moved here was that for the past year and a half or more, they haven't treated the grass. Now our condominium community is gearing up to treat its vast lawns and green spaces with 2,4-D. I hope the property management, Patterson Merkle, would reconsider and not use 2,4-D. I'd bet that if all the residents there were to study and debate the risk/benefit of having 2,4-D sprayed around their homes, they'd insist that the property management and new landscapers not use the phenoxy herbicide. The parents and dog lovers I've spoken to there certainly are not in favor of 2,4-D being used. Residents should have informed consent about such matters.

Wouldn't it be wonderful in the springtime to be able to open your doors and windows and breathe air that doesn't harbor 2,4-D? Isn't that EVERYbody's right? Bless the children and dogs, those most vulnerable to the hazardous effects of lawn chemicals, our innocent miners' canaries in yet another toxic spring of misguided vanity. Maintaining our lawns ought not expose anyone to health risks.

According to the public health group Beyond Pesticides, today the chemical industry's average pesticide sales is $9.3 billion. Landscape industry's annual sales, says Beyong Pesticides, are over 35 billion. With so much money involved, such industries will, of course, assure us that what they use is "safe." Much more study, funded not by the industry itself, must be done.

To the Patterson Merkle Property Management Company, to all property management companies, here is a better way for you to proceed: You'd surely profit much more by announcing your plans to forgo spraying lawn pesticides. Start a trend that will make you respected and admired because you have, by choosing NOT TO SPRAY phenoxy herbicides and other toxic pesticides, maintained an environment where children and dogs have a much safer home.

[1] It must be noted that pesticide products usually include several inert ingredients (as well as the active ingredient(s), such as 2,4-D). Inert ingredients are not required by the EPA to be disclosed to the public but are regarded as "trade secrets," or "proprietary" information. According to Beyond Pesticides, an environmental/public health group located in Washington, D.C., the active ingredient comprises a varying percentage of the actual product and the other ingredients, neither toxicologically, chemically, or biologically "inert," comprise the rest of the formulation. These "inert ingredients" can be toxic to us just as is the active ingredient. The nerve poison ethylene chloride is an example and is linked to eye, heart, liver, and adrenal gland damage. We should also be concerned about the toxicity of these undisclosed so-called “inert” ingredients.