Are any of the products harmful to insects, birds, or dogs?
The fertilizers and herbicides we use have no negative effects on any of the above creatures. There is a specific class of pesticide for targeting the above pests. Insecticides are used to control insects and related arthropods. Avicides control pest birds and predacides control predatory vertebrates. The herbicides we use are designed to interrupt the photosynthesis process, and have no effect on insects, birds, dogs, or other animals. The guidelines we ask you to follow after a treatment hold true for your pets, as well. Please keep them off of your lawn until the product is dry (4 hours). It is our standard practice to give notice of which day your application will occur. We are happy to give additional notice an hour before the application so you can place your pets inside.
Are there any risks?
We recommend using Scott's Pro-Lawn as part of your Integrated Turf Management Plan, resulting in the best possible lawn at the lowest price, with the least risk possible from herbicides. We ask that if you are having a treatment that includes weed control, please follow the simple rules of staying off of the lawn while it is wet, and do not eat the grass until after you have watered it in. If you are using our Nature Safe Fertilizer or our OMRI 100% Organic Fertilizer (which do not contain weed control), please do not eat the pellets, though you would have to eat a LOT of them to have any problems. Please be aware that the fertilizer, iron, and sulfur in our products do have an odor initially, but smelling it does not mean you have inhaled a toxic amount. We agree the smell is unpleasant, but that does not equate to danger.
Our supervisors are highly trained professional applicators, licensed by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. They take the mandate to follow safety regulations very seriously. They hold a Qualified Supervisor license (highest level possible) with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, which works in concert with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. We appreciate your trust in them. Our products are registered either with EPA or Colorado Department of Agriculture, or both. This guarantees many things to the consumer: 1) The products are effective (they actually work how they say they will work). 2) They are made with consistency (for example, the fertilizer nutrients are quantified and properly balanced and are the same from batch to batch - not something you can say about compost tea). 3) They have been subjected to scientific study.
By way of example, we would like to tell you about one of the herbicides that we use, called Vessel. It is less toxic than caffeine or aspirin. It consists of three active herbicides blended together with other ingredients that help it stay properly mixed and spreadable. For you, our lawn customer, the most obvious regulation is to stay off the lawn while the application is still wet. Other regulations about how it is handled, mixed, and sprayed are pertinent to our applicators. They must put out yellow flags to alert the public that the grass has been sprayed (with a product less toxic than caffeine or aspirin). While it is wet, people should not walk through the area. You may re-enter the area and remove the flags once the product is dry, which is about 4 hours or less. EPA has evaluated how a person in particular setting might be exposed, how to eliminate that exposure, and how to minimize greatly any accidental exposure. For example, even if you did accidentally walk in our grass while it was wet from our application, the exposure would still be considered not a significant health risk because the dose is far too low. Many regulatory agencies including U.S. EPA, Health Canada's PMRA (pest Management Regulatory Agency - PMRA - like our EPA), and the World Health Organization continue to agree that products with the active ingredients found in Vessel do not pose unacceptable risk to human health or the environment when used according to the product label. (The label is the list of regulations for use.) Recent re-evaluations of the vast scientific database by the European Union, the USEPA, New Zealand and the World Health Organization show that there is no evidence that active ingredients in Vessel are a carcinogen. After rigorous scientific study over several decades, not a single regulatory agency in the world mandated with protecting public health identifies the active ingredients found in Vessel as a human or animal carcinogen.
What is a pesticide?
Pesticide is a broad term defined as anything that kills a pest, though often it is also about control as perhaps the pest cannot be entirely eliminated. When any pest gets beyond the ability of the caretaker to manually remove it (pull weeds, pick bugs off vegetables, flood out spider mites, etc.) a natural or man-made product designed specifically to kill or control that pest many be used.
The combination of proper plant care, manual methods, and pesticide use is considered Integrated Pest Management.