Weed and feed chemicals are a form of combination herbicides and fertilizers, which allow gardeners to kill harmful plants and feed desired plants at the same time. Unfortunately, the chemicals present in weed and feed products can also cause dangers to humans and the environment. Some cities and countries have even gone so far as to completely ban weed and feed herbicides from their shelves.
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The main ingredient in weed and feed fertilizers and weed killers, 2,4-D, may contribute to neurological disorders in children and adults. A study done in Mexico published by Environmental Health Perspectives in 1998 tested children located in areas where weed and feed and other pesticides were used heavily versus children located in areas with fewer chemical compounds. The children in the chemical-free zones had better neurological responses and motor control than the children in pesticide rich areas.
Ingredients in weed and feed herbicides such as 2,4-D are considered carcinogens. Cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and prostate cancer may have a risk of increase in areas where weed and feed style fertilizers are used heavily. One of the reasons for this increase is that the granular form of weed and feed is easy to over-dose. In Canada, it was found that some lawns had over 180 percent more chemicals than necessary to kill the weeds and fertilize the grass.
Some reproductive issues associated with weed and feed herbicides include miscarriages, birth defects and issues with sperm counts or irregularities. The danger is not only caused by direct contact with the chemicals but also through chemicals found in drinking water, which some water treatment systems are unable to remove completely.
The presence of weed and feed in the soil and water is bad for the environment. Soils and water can become contaminated with the chemicals, passing them on to plants and animals that survive off the land. In some cases, these chemicals are then passed back into human bodies. Some animals, such as fish and bees, are especially susceptible to the chemical 2,4-D which can damage or kill the animals.
Other Health Dangers
Weed and feed products may also interfere with how human hormones regulate insulin, leading to diabetes in some individuals or obesity in others. According to a 2009 study published by the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 2,4-D blocks a sense in the body that detects sweet tastes. This eventually leads to the over-consumption of sweets, which can lead to obesity or diabetes.