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Posted on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 9:44 a.m.

Irwin proposes bill that would allow residents to know when pesticides are being sprayed

By Ryan J. Stanton

State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, has introduced legislation that would allow residents to add their names to the state's pesticide notification registry.


Jeff Irwin

"People deserve to know what they are being exposed to, especially when it comes to protecting their health and the health of the children," he said.

The current system allows only those with a physician's certification meeting certain criteria to have their names added to the registry.

House Bill 4841 would expand the registry to allow residents to sign up and be notified when a commercial applicator sprays lawn, ornamental or mosquito-control pesticides immediately adjacent to their property.

"This is a personal health issue," Irwin said. "My bill provides Michigan residents the right to know when their household may be exposed to harmful chemicals applied near their property. By providing an opt-in, people are given the freedom to make informed decisions about their health."

Irwin cited figures that claim an estimated 78 million U.S. households use chemicals on their lawns and gardens, and acre per acre, residential use of pesticides outweighs agricultural applications threefold.

While the Environmental Protection Agency reviews individual ingredients, Irwin said, it does not consider the overall safety of chemical mixtures, which he said can be more harmful than exposure to individual chemicals.

Alexis Blizman, policy director at the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, agreed.

"Common lawn pesticides have been linked to numerous negative health effects, including kidney and liver damage, birth defects, skin irritation, damage to the reproductive and hormone systems, and cancer," Blizman said.

"The passage of this bill will afford Michigan families and individuals the opportunity to prepare for adjacent pesticide sprays by closing windows, covering sandboxes, bringing pets inside, and even leaving the property. We applaud Rep. Irwin's continued efforts to protect Michigan families."

Irwin's bill was referred to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform on Thursday. The bill has several co-sponsors, including Ellen Cogen Lipton, Bill LaVoy, Rudy Hobbs, Sarah Roberts, Vicki Barnett, Dian Slavens, Sam Singh, Jon Switalski and Rashida Tlaib — all Democrats.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

As a pest management professional I understand the chemical sensativity issue and I'm sympathetic. Keep in mind though that laws like these have unintended issues that come along. If a PMP (Pest Management Professional) is required to contact everyone next to a property he /she is to service there is likel;y to be additional fees to cover time and expenses. The fact is we are regulated not to spray in heavy winds and we all must have a drift plan in place. If you have a problem with a company applying pesticides during heavy wind or in a hazardous way by all means contact the MDA and file a complaint. Use the laws already on the books to protect your families.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

That would be helpful. I always get horrible headaches when pesticides/herbicides are sprayed in my neighborhood.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

Now that glyphosate (Roundup) has been shown to be related to Parkinson's and cancer, maybe we could actually limit their use? I would love it if my neighbors wouldn't spray pesticides on their hillside above a drain that says "flows to river" (i.e. our drinking water).


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

I would think the bill is for government spraying over wide areas not for the private home owner spraying. I am pretty sure farmers for one have to get training before they are authorized to use a lot of these chemicals.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

They leave a sign on my lawn. Are we going to require a billboard with flashing lights. What kind of criminal penalties will he propose? I love this guy he makes me feel safer.................


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

Have there been lawsuits between neighbors claimng harm from the spraying of pesticides? Will this cause there to be more? In general I am in favor of providing more information rather than less but I could see this as a cause of friction between neighbors. Perhaps we should concentrate more on improving methods for keeping the chemicals where they are applied (e.g. application of granular chemicals rather than sprays).


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

How many legislators do we have again?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

Disagree respectfully, why the hell do we have thousands of them and cut police/fire/teachers?

John of Saline

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

I think it's more the "time" issue. They are in session WAY too long.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

I once emerged from my house to find a commercial service had just sprayed my yard with some kind of weed and feed product. After some discussion they realized they had sprayed the wrong lawn. I like to walk on my lawn with barefeet, and I like birds. So it was very unwelcome. More due diligence before spraying might have prevented this.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

I like birds if they're cooked properly.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:31 a.m.

That's horrible...............I mean that you like birds, LOL, they poop on my car every time I wash it.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

I love ticks, mosquitos, and cockroaches.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

The better proposal would be to ban the use of herbicides and pesticides period. They are after all poison right? And they just don't evaporate into thin air...they seep into the ground. As far as protecting yourself from your neighbor's pesticide use, what about the spray that drifts over into your yard? After you leave home you come back to that right?


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Ok instead of just one word can I add " idea " to " dumb " would that be a violation ?


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

Is there money in the bill to enforce this? If not, then he is just grand standing. That makes it a dumb idea.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

Oh...and as smoothly as the government runs I'd bet money people would be notified after the fact


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

Why ? because it's just more government ( guess who's gonna pay for it in the long run ) pesticides are not now like they were 20 or 30 years ago.If people are that scared then they should move into the mountains.People are exposed to much worse every day by just leaving the house.Sorry if this is a little garbled I just sprayed for bugs and weeds

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

Can you explain why you think this is a dumb idea?

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

Applause for Jeff Irwin for introducing this. I'd be curious to know what triggered the introduction of the measure. When I was a volunteer at the Ecology Center in the late 1980s, I met a number of people who had become chemically sensitive. Multiple chemical sensitivity is one of those poorly understood syndromes that often don't receive much sympathy. It is very real to those experiencing it. Often people reported to me that they became afflicted after heavy pesticide use where they lived (often by a landlord or property manager). (We had a volunteer Pesticide Task Force at the time.) Pesticides applied by a certified applicator are potentially much more toxic than those available to home applicators. The two major concerns are insecticides and herbicides. When these are applied in spray form, they can drift onto adjacent property and expose unwilling or unknowing people. Both toxicity (outright poisonous effects) and potential to cause sensitivity are a concern. I've been happy to note that the lawn operators used by most of my neighbors seem to be using mostly granular or liquid (not spray) methods. Also, many of those applications are only fertilizer, which is not such an issue. If people are spraying insecticide to control mosquitoes, that could definitely be a problem for those exposed. Some insecticides (organophosphates) are related to the nerve gas sarin (see and can have severe toxic effects. I hope that no one is employing those around people or pets. (There are less toxic methods of controlling mosquitoes.)


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:53 a.m.

We are fortunate to have neighbors who also stay away from having lawn services spray chemicals that are more threatening to some people than others. One selling point of some lawn services is to make lawns appear better than anything we could. I have enough knowledge of chemicals and the possibility of serious asthma attacks and other injuries. The issue is the possibility of severely injuring people with certain health conditions.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

Glad to hear that organophosphates are off the market for lawn care. Is malathion still used for mosquitoes? That is the scary one to me.

Linda Diane Feldt

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

Thanks so much for ridiculing my problem, John of Saline. I never liked chemicals much, but they weren't a problem until I had acute and then chronic carbon monoxide exposure. It was from a furnace that malfunctioned, and then wasn't fixed properly. Now my symptoms form exposure to a whole range of chemicals include dizziness, confusion, panic (or at least rapid heart beats), trouble breathing, and sometimes muscle weakness. It would certainly be more convenient in life if I was making it up. It is a real issue for many of us, and ongoing exposure to a variety of chemicals only makes it worse. Lawn chemicals aren't the worst things, many cleaning products and perfumes and colognes are what really make me sick, as well as 2nd hand smoke. Be glad it is apparently not a problem for you. My situation is mild compared with most, but believe me, knowing you could be suddenly overtaken by toxic fumes or simple perfume whenever you go out is not pleasant. It is very real. And life changing.

John of Saline

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

I'm guessing a lot of people claiming "multiple chemical sensitivity" would have a reaction to the spraying of distilled water if they saw it coming out of a "chemical" bottle.

Jeff Mausolf

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

FYI, organophosphates have been off the market in Michigan (as far as lawn care is concerned) for at least 7 years. I'm all for keeping the environment safe, but I think there's better ways to go about it than spying on my neighbors.

Superior Twp voter

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

More laws. More regulations. Yea, that's what we need in the good ole USA. We don't have enough already. Propose a law, thump your chest, get your name and pic in the media.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

Unfortunately, as population density increases, more people with varying needs and beliefs bump up against each other. Agreed upon rules help to keep us from killing each other most of the time.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

"The current system allows only those with a physician's certification meeting certain criteria to have their names added to the registry." In other words, this would not create more laws or regulations. It would simply open up the existing registry so that more people can opt in.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Laws need to keep up with new technologies for our protection. Welcome to civilization.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

So, when I spray Weed'n'Feed on my lawn, I don't have to notify anybody. But, if I pay someone to spray my lawn, they have to notify the neighbors? Does the representative know what percentage of lawn spraying is done by homeowners as opposed to services?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

Pesticides, not fertilizer

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

Great idea. Everyone should have the option of closing up their house, avoiding the exposure, etc. Especially people who have respiratory ailments.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

I can't imagine that the companies that I see applying chemicals in our neighborhood have a clue about what they are supposed to do, and that they comply today or will comply in the future.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

A lawsuit for breaking a state law might change that in a hurry.