Living with Chemical Spraying

My previous blog was about finding a healthy place. As I said no place is perfect, and just when you begin to let your guard down and think it’s going to work out for you, something changes.

To give you some history, my husband and I spent a lot of time looking at lots and small acreage. We looked for larger lots out of town (traditional neighborhoods usually use a lot of lawn services), away from agricultural farms (crop dusting), away from water (West Nile spraying), and you get the idea. It was a long search and it seemed that we were always looking. When we finally found the large acreage we live on we thought it would be perfect.

I visited the lot at different times of the day, different days of the week; all I ever noticed was clean air and quiet. I called the president of the HOA and inquired about chemical spraying. He said they only spray alongside the roads to kill weeds once or twice a year. Since it is a rural neighborhood, only a few people have traditional lawns, most just accept the reality of where they live, and let the natural landscape be. So in short, only a handful of people use chemicals.

Of all the lots we looked at, this seemed to be our best option. But nothing is perfect. After a time I learned that yes the native grass and weeds are sprayed about 3 feet back from the edge of the road, but because of the size of the neighborhood it can take a couple of weekends. For me that meant extended periods of not going outside and keeping the house closed up tight (up to three weeks). My family calls it lockdown mode. After spraying was complete, it would take about 10 days, from the last date the area was sprayed for me to safely be outside. I couldn’t smell anything, but going outside before that 10 days was up meant my skin would itch and burn, and I would get the most intense headaches of my life, and they lasted for days.

The flip side of this is that the HOA president knows I am chemically sensitive, and is as accommodating as he can be. He e-mails me to say that he’ll be spraying and asks if there is a specific date that works best for me. He also follows up with 3 days notice before spraying, so I can stock up at the grocery store. One time he actually rescheduled because he was concerned about a wind shift that would cause the wind to be blowing towards my house.

I realize not everyone is so lucky. I’ve had friends share nightmare stories about neighbors who don’t care, who aren’t accommodating to their situation. Sadly, I have no easy answers for that one. The truth is all you can do is explain your situation, and ask politely that they notify you before they spray. This would give you the opportunity to leave, or keep the house closed up. As your relationship with your neighbor improves, perhaps you can share some healthier and more environmentally responsible solutions for weed and pest control. I have had the most success, when I make these discussions not about how spraying effects my health, but about how it may impact them.

Most people assume that a product would not be on the market unless it was safe. So if you have a neighbor who is somewhat environmentally conscious and still uses Roundup you might want to use that opportunity to educate them about the hazards of Roundup by referring them to the following articles:

Eleven Reasons to Stop Using Roundup

Roundup More Toxic Than Regulators Say

And offer them some alternatives:

Natural Weed Killers

Will everyone listen? Probably not. Is your health worth the effort, yes it is. As my mother used to say, you can catch more flies with honey, than you can with vinegar. So if you haven’t done so already, build a positive rapport with your neighbors, if you can’t do it in person due to your health, reach out with a note or e-mail. When you speak with your neighbors with kindness and honesty you are more likely to get a positive response and their cooperation.

As for me, I am grateful that I live in area where my neighbors notify me ahead of time before spraying. Is the neighborhood as safe as I thought? No its not, but it’s better than anywhere I have lived previously. I am making the best of it and looking forward to fall, as the plants and weeds die back and people stop spraying, and I can safely walk through my yard and be outdoors again.


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My Health Maven offers information on a wholistic approach to healthy lifestyle choices.