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Posted on Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Banners flying over Michigan Stadium part of campaign to raise awareness of neighborhood pesticides

By Juliana Keeping

Football fans who look in the sky Saturday before the Wolverine’s showdown with Purdue may catch a glimpse of a banner that’s a little different from the birthday wishes and car dealership ads typically flown over the home game crowd.


Linda Weiss poses for photograph with her dog Molly at her home on Saturday afternoon. Weiss said studies show pesticide use can hurt the health of people and pets. She's campaigning for a ban on pesticides in Michigan neighborhoods.

Melanie Maxwell |

Scio Township resident Linda Weiss, 72, has commissioned an airplane banner to get across the message: Kids deserve fresh air, too.

Weiss paid $400 for the plane-towed ad to kick off a campaign she hopes to raise awareness about pesticides commonly applied in neighborhoods. She says the pesticides contain toxins that can hurt people, and she specifically wants to raise awareness to protect children.

"It's a no brainer," she said.

Chemical sensitivity remains medically controversial, with organizations like the American Medical Association not recognizing it as a medical disorder.

However, Weiss said a number of studies have linked an increase in childhood cancers like leukemia to pesticides, she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pesticides can increase crop production, preserve produce, control exotic species and mitigate insect infestations.

About 1.1 billion pounds of pesticide are used annually in the US, including insecticides, rodenticides, sanitizer, fungicides and herbicides.

Weiss says she wants pesticides used on lawns and trees around homes banned and has started to petition on and a website to drum up support for the cause, in addition to the advertising fly-over at Michigan Stadium before and after the noon game Saturday in Ann Arbor.

She said she doesn't understand why people buy organic food, but turn a blind eye to the pesticide use around them in neighborhoods.

Pesticide use has been an issue for Weiss since the 1980s, when she became ill after exposure to the sprays while living in Milford, she said. A doctor diagnosed her with multiple chemical sensitivity, which is also called environmental illness. She said her sensitivity causes symptoms like dizziness and heart palpitations when she’s exposed to common substances like perfume or car exhaust.

Weiss said her experience fueled a homegrown campaign that eventually resulted in the creation of a pesticide notification registry in Michigan.

Administered by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the registry requires applicants to provide a physician’s certification and distance requirements for notification of pesticide use. Once individuals are on the list, licensed pesticide firms have to provide notice of chemical applications in their area.


A small sign marking Linda Weiss' yard as pesticide free is seen in front of her home.

Melanie Maxwell

Returning to the Ann Arbor area this summer after living in Florida for several years, she re-registered with the MDA for the notifications. Weiss said more than 500 pesticide applications have been sprayed in her neighborhood over several months.

“I’m protected," Weiss said. "I know when I can go out and when I can’t.”

Weiss said she keeps a map of her neighborhood where the pesticides have been applied. She said she would prefer the law allowed anyone, not just people diagnosed with chemical sensitivity, to get on the state registry.

Weiss said the Saturday sign will say “Heart your kids, sign to ban toxic lawn spray" and direct those interested to a new website The campaign also has a Twitter page.



Sun, Oct 30, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

It is a MYTH to believe that pest control products somehow cause cancer. International Agency for Research on Cancer ( IARC is part of the United Nation's World Health Organization ) lists VERY FEW PESTICIDES as carcinogenic, or as probable or possible carcinogens, and NONE of these can be found among « cosmetic » pesticides used in Canada. The largest long-term study ever undertaken on pest control products ? the U.S. Agricultural Health Study ? showed an INVERSE CORRELATION between the use of 2,4-D Herbicide and colorectal cancer. In 2007, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada issued a ruling that 2,4-D IS NOT CANCER-CAUSING IN HUMANS. The World Health Organization only lists the common pest control product 2,4-D in the SAME CANCER-RISK CATEGORY AS PICKLED VEGETABLES AND CELL-PHONES. United States Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada conducted a review of the scientific literature and concluded there was NO EVIDENCE OF A LINK BETWEEN CANCER AND 2,4-D. WILLIAM H. GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G National Organization Responding Against HUJE that seek to harm the Green Space Industry ( NORAHG ). <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sun, Oct 30, 2011 : 12:07 p.m.

&quot;pesticides contain toxins that can hurt people&quot; Wow, that's a face, not backed up by any data! I love how she want's to protect the children, yet is pictured with a dog. Here is a thought for you, no one had a problem spraying when WestNile was on the loose. Now that there isn't a lot of attention played to vector born disease, people think that bugs are okay. Guess what, pesticides have saved more lives than any other invention in history, and will continue to save more lives. So please drop the liberal double talk.

Cendra Lynn

Sun, Oct 30, 2011 : 2:50 a.m.

How about psychological??? This psychologist knows that psychological is medical. You can't think yourself into chemical sensitivity, just as you can't think yourself into depression or anxiety or any of the disorders we used to call mental. Mental is physical and physical is mental. Linda Weiss does not have chemical sensitivity because she campaigns against pesticides. Lots of other people campaign and don't have chemical sensitivity. I have a relative who has no position whatever on the topic and his breathing is compromised when exposed to certain perfumes. Disagreement with someone about a topic is fine. Suggesting that there is something wrong with the person with whom you disagree is not.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

I find the photo of Molly to be in very poor taste. This sort of provocative pose is much more appropriate for a Playdog centerfold.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 10 p.m.

Doggone it, you're right!

Marilyn Wilkie

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

Anyone who thinks pesticides and herbicides are not harming the environment is listening to the manufacturers claims and believing them. The EPA often relies on the manufacturers testing to determine safety.These chemicals don't just evaporate into thin air and go away. They build up and get into our water supply and kill beneficial insects as well. If you think they are safe, take a big drink of one some time.


Sun, Oct 30, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

Really, which beneficial insects do they kill? Which chemicals are toxic. How do pesticides work? Don't know, than why are you spreading chaos.

Joe Wood

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 11:29 p.m.

Then, why do we have an EPA?


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

&quot;She said her sensitivity causes symptoms like dizziness and heart palpitations when she's exposed to common substances like perfume or car exhaust.&quot; Next is an assault on Cat houses and Cars! Only $400 for a banner? Who knows what might show up next!


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

Good for you, Linda!! I live around the corner from a day care center and, when I walk my dog past it, I am careful not to let him on the lawn because it periodically has those little flags warning of pesticide application. What are they thinking?????


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

They are thinking it's their lawn keep your dog off!


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

To clarify, this is a children's day care center.

L. C. Burgundy

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 7:25 p.m.

If she has sensitivity to car exhaust, shouldn't she be working to ban cars too? - No one has ever found a biological explanation for MCS. - 50%+ of people who have MCS have been found to have depression or anxiety disorders - There is little rhyme or reason to what people with MCS report sensitivity to, everything from a perfume to highlighters.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

Petroleum-based products are pretty widespread. I don't need the whole list but I am not clear if your recognition that pesticides are petroleum-based is an admission that her concerns might be valid (since it answered your earlier question about why she is concerned about pesticides). Care to explain how you know the sensitivity from which she suffers is secondary to petroleum products?


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

I understand pesticides are made from petroleum based products. So is your cell phone and so are aspirin awnings, balloons, ballpoint pens, bandages and basketballs. You want the whole list? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

It doesn't say she's allergic to petroleum products in the article. It should, because that's the allergy or if you would prefer, sensitivity that she ails from. She even states in the article that she is also irritated by car exhaust and perfume.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

And, @Tesla, most pesticides at least are derived from petroleum products: &quot;A pesticide consists of an active ingredient coupled with inert ingredients. The active ingredient kills the pests, while the inert ingredients facilitate spraying and coating the target plant; they can also contribute other advantages that are not conferred by the active ingredient alone. Active ingredients were once distilled from natural substances; now they are largely synthesized in a laboratory. Almost all are hydrocarbons derived from petroleum.&quot; See <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

@Tesla, where in the story does it say (or does she say) she is &quot;...allergic to petroleum...&quot;?


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:53 p.m.

To my ears he is saying why ban pesticides like Miss Weiss wants, when in fact it is not pesticides that are her problem. Her problem is that she is allergic to petroleum and she knows this, yet...she wants pesticides banned. Why?


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:36 p.m.

@jcj, I agree with the first half of your reply, and I think if something is (or appears to be) causing illness, at least considering a restriction on the putative offender would be prudent while an investigation is pursued. The second half of your reply makes no sense to me. I would welcome from you an expansion or clarification of that. Care to provide an example?


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

DHB &quot;The tendency is to discount the existence of a disorder when it cannot be explained, or to try to explain it in terms of what is already known. And in some corners The tendency is to want to ban something when it cannot be explained, or to try to explain it in terms of what is not known.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

1) Just because no biological explanation has been found does not mean there isn't one, or that the condition does not exist. The cause of chronic hives (hives defined as lasting more than 6 months), for example, almost never has a known cause but it clearly exists. 2) If you were highly sensitive to hard-to-avoid multiple chemicals with numerous unpleasant symptoms, wouldn't you likely be depressed or anxious after awhile? 3) The variety of chemicals to which sufferers of MCS report symptoms is irrelevant. Just as the common cold can be secondary to dozens of different viruses, so could MCS be the result of sensitivity to dozens (or more) of different chemicals. Just because sufferers have similar reaction patterns to different chemicals does not make the condition less real. The tendency is to discount the existence of a disorder when it cannot be explained, or to try to explain it in terms of what is already known. We must accept the fact that our knowledge base is (and probably always will be) incomplete and that the cause(s) of currently unexplained disorders may, in fact, be discoverable in the future.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

Miss Weiss has been on this campaign for a long time. She is well known in the pesticide application industry. I think the term &quot;Chemically Sensitive&quot; is a bit confusing and frankly it's mis leading. My understanding is that a very small percentage of people like Miss Weiss have allergies to &quot;Petroleum Based Products&quot; and products made with same. This can be anything from Gasoline to the plastic bags they put your groceries in at the store. The Michigan Department of Agriculture does a great job monitoring legal and licensed Pesticide businesses and this includes but is not limited to Home pest control and lawn care. They have also instituted a program called &quot;Integrated Pest Management&quot; that has reduced the amount of pesticides applied by pest control companies, be they lawn care or what have you, and people on the registry list that Miss Weiss mentioned are notified in advance if an application is to be made in their vicinity. Lawn care is an easy target for Miss Weiss but the facts are that the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the green industries have made huge advances in pesticide application safety, and Miss Weiss is still not and never will be satisfied.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

Weiss is simply conducting an educational campaign. I applaud her for calling attention to the issue of unnecessary pesticides applied to urban lawns and landscapes. Fortunately, some applications are now granular or applied by a stream from a nozzle (not aerated) so do not result in spray drift. Though I am not chemically sensitive, I do notice when there is a pesticide in the air. When I was working with the Ecology Center on this issue (in the 80s) I met several people suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity. It is not imaginary and we are all well advised to avoid exposure to these chemicals. The toxicity of pesticides varies widely, both in severity and type. But it is not limited to humans and pets. Some pesticides (herbicides) can cause damage to plants. My neighbor has had the habit of hiring people (not certified applicators) to spray killing herbicides around the periphery of his yard and some of my garden has been affected in the past. Only certified applicators may legally apply pesticides to properties other than their own. In other words, as a homeowner, you have an exemption from the requirement for training that certified applicators have. Other unskilled individuals are not supposed to do that for you. But that law is not always followed. The registry is an excellent idea, but of course homeowners and non-certified applicators could be making applications that would not show up on it.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

I thought the banner flying planes were discontinued. I saw no planes at the last two games. What is the story on that?

Brian Damage

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

A huge thumbs up to Linda Weiss, a very lovely lady! A huge thumbs down to Juliana Keeping and her kowtowing to industry by stating that multiple chemical sensitivity is &quot;controversial.&quot; It's only as controversial as &quot;smoking causes cancer&quot; was.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

I get so tired of this, as if everyone wants dirty air and water. &quot;Chemical sensitivity remains medically controversial, with organizations like the American Medical Association not recognizing it as a medical disorder.&quot; How about psychological. &quot;However, Weiss said a number of studies have linked an increase in childhood cancers like leukemia to pesticides, she said.&quot; (Journalism at it's best) . I understand that pushing a shopping cart has been linked to cancer too. &quot;Pumpkins grown across the road from us are sprayed. This happens after dark which is very strange.&quot; Um, because the air is &quot;still&quot; at night? In reality chemicals are going to have to be used. I someone prefers not to use the chemicals etc... go for it. But, quit trying to save me from myself. I'm not trying to be mean here, just frustrated.

Brian Damage

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

&quot;&quot;Chemical sensitivity remains medically controversial, with organizations like the American Medical Association not recognizing it as a medical disorder.&quot; How about psychological.&quot; Because it is NOT psychological.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

Regarding the asserted connection between pesticide use and childhood leukemia, perhaps the reporter allowed the quote without further reference because the association is well known, and has been well known for years. Check out <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;hl=en&amp;as_sdt=0&amp;as_vis=1&amp;oi=scholart</a> and take your pick.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

Banning -cide chemicals almost certainly would result in a significantly greater cost of produce. Personally, I would accept the higher prices as a tradeoff for the reduced exposure to these things. And I find the appearance of lawns without crabgrass, dandelions or other weeds to be unattractive and sterile.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

@jcj, I don't know if I live on your street. On what street do you live? I think not being concerned about having a weed-free lawn does not equate to being lazy. Leaving the lawn untended in terms of trimming or cutting might be a sign of laziness but, again, that likely would vary from person to person. One can have a nice looking lawn (if that feature should be important) by keeping it cut and trimmed, weeds or not. And, again, having a lawn with some weeds in it is not causally related to having an unsanitary house or home. In my experience, it is hardly even correlated. This might pertain to your behaviors (I wouldn't know) but it is inaccurate to generalize the association in the way in which you did.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

Upon closer looks you generally find the houses of those with crabgrass, dandelions or other weeds to be unsanitary. Anyone with an aversion to a stinky house?


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

&quot;And I find the appearance of lawns without crabgrass, dandelions or other weeds to be unattractive and sterile.&quot; And I find to be in the yards of lazy people. Do you live on my street?

Linda Peck

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 12:07 p.m.

Hurray for you, Linda Weiss! This is such an important issue! My yard with its trees and bushes and flowers and lovely green lawn are never tampered with and look gorgeous. It is an all natural yard. Birds and butterflies prefer my yard to my neighbors' because the bugs and flowers just taste better! As she says, &quot;it is a no brainer!&quot;

Marilyn Wilkie

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 10:39 a.m.

I applaud her efforts to make people more aware of this. We are concerned about this as well. Pumpkins grown across the road from us are sprayed. This happens after dark which is very strange. Why would someone choose to do it than, and what are they spraying? I would be leery of allowing my kids to climb all over in a pumpkin patch now. We keep a strictly organic garden and se no chemicals on our property. But drift from someone else's is another matter.