It’s springtime – that time of reawakening, renewal, and hope when a young man’s mind often turns to… lawn care. The desire for that perfect, emerald-green natural carpet that surrounds a man’s castle overtakes his very being. He makes a pilgrimage to his local DIY home building store, hoists a 50 lb. bag of turf product over his shoulder, and makes his way home to toil outside under the blazing sun. He methodically spreads the little pellets contained in the sack with the promise of fertility on its packaging across his domain, in the hopes that beautiful, lush greenery will result. But, while the pesticides in the fertilizer keep little critters that destroy lawns at bay, they may also cause problems for the little critters that are inside a man’s body which determine his own fertility. Pesticides are bad news for sperm.
According to the group Physicians for Social Responsibility, research shows that exposure to several classes of pesticides, including organophosphates and pyrethroids, have been shown to reduce sperm concentration, meaning there are fewer sperm being made. This can have the effect of making it take longer to achieve a pregnancy, or even make pregnancy unlikely to occur at all. Common pesticides such as atrazine and diazinon can damage sperm viability and function. Changes to the DNA in sperm, as well as epigenetic changes which alter how genes express themselves, can affect male fetuses growing in the womb and also male infants who are exposed, having lasting effects which might not become known until later in life and which may last over generations.
Exposure happens when pesticides come in contact with the skin, when we breathe them in as dust or fumes, when we ingest the residue on the food we eat, and when we drink contaminated water from run-off that gets into our water supply. Wearing protective gear is one way to limit exposure, but once the pesticides are out in the environment it is hard to control where they end up. Even if you wore clothing that completely covered your skin, chemical-resistant gloves, and a particle-filtering face mask while applying the chemicals, it would still not be enough protection. The pesticides you put on your lawn may get tracked into your house on your shoes, or blow in your window with the breeze, or end up as the house dust in your neighbor’s baby’s nursery, sticking to his pacifier after it falls on the carpet on which he plays, or get washed into your town’s reservoir after a rain shower. The best way to protect against exposure is to not use chemical pesticides for lawn care at all.
There are organic lawn care products and more environmentally friendly methods of caring for your lawn that will minimize the risks of damaging your health and the health of your, and others’, male children. An important question is, “Why does the lawn need to be that green at all, if making it so is damaging to people and the environment?” We all have a responsibility to consider the world we are creating today through the use of these chemicals and the world we will leave to our children tomorrow. How does your desire to have a green lawn compare against your desire to have a healthy son?
Make this spring the year when you spend the extra money to use the organic products or lawn care service, or decide to let Mother Nature run wild. The true measure of manhood is not in how stately and well-manicured a man’s castle is; it’s in his choice to take responsibility for the health and well-being of himself and others.
How important is having a well-manicured lawn to you? Leave a comment below!
Michal Klau-Stevens is The Birth Lady. She is the creator of the 11 Steps to Planning Ahead to “Have It All” Audio Class, an on-demand, downloadable program that helps 20-somethings design a life they love that includes career, family, learning, and self-fulfillment. She is a maternity consultant, pregnancy coach, consumer expert on maternity care issues, Past President of BirthNetwork National, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and mother. Her website is TheBirthLady.INFO. Find her on Facebook at The Birth Lady page!
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