Elmhurst Park District curtails use of harmful pesticides

ELMHURST – A recent decision by the Elmhurst Park District means that 30 acres of green space will no longer be sprayed with harmful pesticides.

The park district’s decision to eliminate broad leaf pesticide application from 30 acres of park space this fall follows the decision in 2017 to eliminate synthetic pesticides and fertilizers at Van Voorst Park. A similar decision was made in June to eliminate use of the chemicals at Marjorie Davis Park.

This equates to 25% of the district’s turf not receiving broadcast application. Plans also are underway to transition fertilization of all parks to organic by 2020.

“We applaud park district board members and staff for the work they’ve done to make Elmhurst a sustainable and vibrant community, but our efforts are not complete,” Elmhurst Cool Cities member Jill Jarvis said. “It’s our hope that the park district continues to expand its sustainability efforts by eventually eliminating synthetic pesticide applications at all parks.

“Their eco-friendly lawn care efforts should serve as an example for the city of Elmhurst, Elmhurst School District 205, businesses and residents.”

Scientific evidence links exposure to lawn pesticides and herbicides to health hazards, including asthma, ADHD, cancer and reproductive problems.

The Elmhurst Park District has eliminated glyphosate from all green spaces. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide found in weed killers. A University of Washington study concluded that glyphosate significantly increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Communities that have implemented pesticide-free parks include Naperville, Park Ridge, Highland Park, Evanston, Riverdale, Lake Bluff and Chicago. A number of school districts also have committed to pesticide reduction.

Elmhurst Cool Cities has advocated for pesticide-free lawn care within Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205, most recently addressing the school board Sept. 10.

In appreciation of Midwest Grows Green’s work and assistance in Elmhurst, Cool Cities donated $500 to the nonprofit. The funds will be used to create an online toolkit to assist decision-makers in reducing chemical use.

“Just as MGG helped us advocate for pesticide-free green space, we’re confident the MGG toolkit will assist others here in town and throughout Chicagoland move away from harmful lawn chemicals,” Jarvis said.