Clean air, clean water and public spaces free from toxic chemicals should be the standard. A non toxic community is one that prioritizes the health of residents and the environment, creating ordinances, policies, and programs that reflect a commitment to long term sustainability. What are some of the areas we can target to help support these basic rights?
Organic land care practices
- Chronic exposure to toxic pesticides is harmful to human health and the environment.
Organic land care involves a holistic approach to the soil that enhances biological cycles of soil microorganisms, prioritizes cultural, mechanical, and biological interventions first, with least toxic chemical options as a last resort.
Organic land care naturally segues into the installation of sustainable landscaping such as community vegetable, pollinator and rain gardens that benefit residents and the surrounding environment by promoting food security and healthy eating, biodiversity, and clean water.
Natural grass athletic fields and playgrounds
- Synthetic turf, waste tire crumb, and poured in-place (PIP) surfaces contain hazardous substances and are unsustainable fossil fuel intensive products.
Natural grass and wood chips made from engineered wood fiber (EWF) are the safest and also most economical surfaces for our children to play on. The children are protected from exposure to toxic chemicals, and the environment is protected from plastic pollution when we utilize these safe choices.
Grass stays naturally cooler, eliminating the increased risk of heat related illness and heat island effect caused by synthetic surfaces.
Quiet low emission maintenance equipment
- Gas powered lawn and garden equipment account for a significant portion of off-road carbon emissions and pollute our air with harmful particulate matter and VOCs, as well as stirring up dust, pollen, mold, and other respiratory irritants.
Electric and solar powered equipment improve air quality and worker health and safety by eliminating hazardous noise levels and emissions created by internal combustion engines.
Native plant ordinances and habitat restoration
- Habitat loss is a major contributor to declines in pollinators and other beneficial insects.
Utilizing native plants in our landscapes is a simple and beautiful way to support our ecosystems, prevent local extinctions, increase biodiversity, and preserve natural resources. Trees and green space also benefit public health.
Structural IPM and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) policies
- The health hazards from exposure to toxic pesticides in buildings are well known. Indoor air quality affects health and learning.
Structural IPM eliminates the use of toxic pesticides and relies upon prevention, monitoring, and control which offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of pesticides, and to minimize the toxicity of and exposure to any products which are used. Tools to improve IAQ include filtration and ventilation that remove particles in the air that can make people sick.
Indoor fragrance free and green cleaning policies
- Many people suffer negative health effects from fragrances in personal care products and chemicals in industrial cleaners.
To create a healthier indoor air environment, fragrance free workplace policies can help. Green cleaning products can reduce triggers for asthma, headaches, and allergies while still being effective.
What other specific areas in your community do you think need addressing? By involving stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds in our advocacy projects, we can better identify the unique needs of each community to protect those who are most vulnerable, preserve the right to be healthy and prevent the negative health effects caused by toxic environmental exposures.