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Pesticide Alternatives
Leafy green plants in gardenIssue: Pesticides and Water Quality
Pesticides used to control pests in and around buildings and homes as well as in lawns and gardens are washed away by rainwater and irrigation water runoff, and end up flowing into the storm drains, creeks, and the bay.

Even very small amounts of pesticides can be toxic to aquatic life and can impact our drinking water supplies. Urban sources of pesticides are threats to human health and the health of our watershed.

What You Can Do to Prevent Pesticide Pollution
Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM): IPM integrates biological, physical, and least-toxic chemical pest prevention and control methods. Instead of using chemical controls as a quick fix for a pest problem, IPM teaches us how to manage our buildings and landscapes more sustainably, using fewer chemicals and often saving money.

To learn more about IPM and how to manage specific pests or plants, visit the University of California’s IPM web site. IPM has five fields of control: 
  • Habitat modification – When you have continued ant problem, control the source of food and water for ants
  • Management or Cultural Practices – For continued weed problems in your lawn, mow often but mow high
  • Physical Control or Exclusion – Caulk holes on walls to keep mice away
  • Biological Control – Use beneficial ladybugs that eat aphids off your roses
  • Chemical Control – When none of the above has worked and the pest becomes intolerable, use the least toxic chemicals available

Request IPM Services From Your Pest Management Company
Ask the pest management company if their practitioners follow IPM techniques. You can find IPM service providers in the Bay Area through EcoWise or the Bio-Integral Resource Center.

Purchase Nontoxic or Less-Toxic Products
Some products, due to their active ingredient or method of application, are nontoxic or have a lesser chance of becoming water pollution or coming in contact with people and pets. An easy-to-use guide for nontoxic or less-toxic products can be found at Our Water Our World.

Pesticide Disposal
Pesticides are toxic chemicals and should always be disposed of safely. Never pour unused pesticides outdoors or down storm drains, and do not pour pesticides down indoor drains such as sinks, toilets, and showers. All unused pesticides should be taken to a County Household Hazardous Waste drop-off location for disposal. To schedule a free drop-off at a location near you, call (408) 299-7300.

Would you like to reduce pesticide use while implementing money-saving soil and water conservation practices, too? Be sure to landscape and garden the bay-Friendly way.