The fresh air and green grass on your day at the golf course may not be as healthy as you think, due to toxic pesticides. More than a ton of pesticides and chemical poisons may be applied to your favorite golf course each year to ward off insects and weeds. Learn the health risks of this pesticide exposure and find out how toxic green can go safely green to create a healthy relationship between golf lovers and our links.
What are some health risks of pesticide exposure on golf courses?
A medical study conducted by professor B. C. Kross at the University of Iowa in 1994 revealed that golf course superintendents were more likely to die of lung cancer, brain cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, cancer of the large intestine or prostrate cancer. The high cancer rate is due to toxic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used to keep the fairways lush and green.
Regular golfers, residents of homes on golf courses and grounds workers also have higher risks of developing lung, brain and other cancers.
According to one autopsy report in an Asian health journal, an avid male golfer had died from exposure to the fungicide, chlorothalonil, used on the golf course where he became ill immediately after a round of golf in 1993.
In 1991, the Japan Medical and Dental Practitioner reported that nearly 40 percent of the agricultural poisoning cases they handled involved employees of golf courses, amateur golfers or people living adjacent to the links.
What are some other health risks of pesticide exposure in humans and wildlife?
Medical Researchers from Mayo Clinic reported that pesticide exposure increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease in men. Cornell University researchers found pesticides in 100 percent of cancerous breast tissue they tested in women.
The chemicals applied to golf courses not only are toxic to golfers and the people who take care of the courses. Also, rain may carry these toxic chemicals to ponds, streams, and lakes, where they can harm other kinds of wildlife and pollute our underground water supplies.
What can we do to make golf courses safer?
Golf courses can be built in ways that leave more natural land for the animals and cause less pollution.
Plants that soak up toxic chemicals can be installed on borders of golf courses to prevent chemical runoff into our ecosystems.
Golf courses can go green and organic. Fortunately, there is a safe, effective alternative for each chemical poison currently used on golf courses.
Fellow golf lovers who know these facts may ask course managers to care for their golf course by using non-toxic methods that support the good health of everyone who plays, works and lives nearby.
Why am I so concerned about a toxic relationship with our environment?
As a young child, I breathed in DDT each week during the summers as I ran behind the magic fogging truck that sprayed DDT to kill mosquitoes. No one tried to stop us. No one knew the long-term health risks of DDT exposure when they were using this “canon” to kill mosquitoes. I’m still recovering from side effects of my childhood exposure to DDT.
Now that medical studies repeatedly provide evidence of the health risks of even low-level exposure to pesticides, we have incentive to create a healthy relationship with our environment in our golf courses, our farmland, and in our own back yard.