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Good Neighbor Iowa: Challenging the Idea of a Perfect Lawn

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This segment originally aired on May 3, 2017.

Spraying herbicide to achieve what many consider to be the ideal lawn became a common practice in the mid-20th century. Many people stopped that practice after studies showing the health impact of human contact with common pesticides and weed killers.

"The body of evidence that they are harmful to children is sobering," says Kamyar Enshayan, director of University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education. "There is significant evidence that we ought to stay away from these, and kids should not be exposed to them because of their unique vulnerabilities and frequent hand-to-mouth behavior."

Enshayan says that studies found that herbicide exposure in children can lead to conditions including acute lymphocytic leukemia, brain tumors, and interference with brain development. Other concerns include pet exposure, harm to pollinators, and environmental issues relating to water runoff.

Enshayan is spreading the message about the impact of weed killers with the Good Neighbor Iowaproject, which aims to get cities, businesses, and community members to reduce their herbicide use. 

On this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with Enshayan, as well as Cori Burbach, the Sustainable Community Coordinator for the city of Dubuque, which was one of the first cities in Iowa to adopt a plan to limit their pesticide use.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa