The unhealthy link between football and pesticides
Updated: Mar 7
Playing sport to keep fit and healthy on a pitch laced with poison? Spot any inconsistency here?! With the European Cup fever, football is all over the news just now, but its link with pesticides is rarely discussed.
An often-overlooked dimension of urban pesticide-use is the inordinate amount of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and fertilisers used on football pitches, golf courses and other sports fields. The extent of the problem, for both the environment as well as human health, especially for young people, is outlined here: https://www.panna.org/sites/default/files/PesticidesPlayingField.pdf
"A conventional maintenance plan includes the use of a fungicide on a regular basis to prevent fungal pathogens, a post-emergent herbicide (such as 2, 4, D) to kill crabgrass and dandelion seed, a selective herbicide (such as Trimec or Mecoprop) to kill clover and other broadleaf weeds, and an insecticide (such as merit or dylox) to kill insects such as grubs"
If you or your children are involved with sport, do please ask your sports club what kinds of pesticides they use on the pitch and whether they're prepared to go pesticide-free.
Pesticide-free turf management options are discussed here: https://theconversation.com/controlling-weeds-on-playing-fields-parks-and-lawns-without-herbicides-103819
In the UK, Dale Vince, has been leading the way with his pesticide-free pitch at the Forest Green Rovers football club, ensuring that footballers don't need to be exposed to dangerous chemicals in order to pursue their sport: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/mar/28/soy-of-the-rovers-the-vegan-football-club-kickstarting-a-green-revolution
It is notable that the above referenced Guardian article gives ONE sentence to the FGR's pesticide-free status and doesn't discuss at all why this might be remarkable.
Please contact your local football club and ask what pesticides they use and whether they're willing to consider wildlife and human health-friendly alternatives. You can also write to the Football Association to express your concern. The more people who speak about about this the better!
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[JS @ PFC]