Long Islanders love their lawns and do their best to make them healthy. But studies suggest that many may be going overboard in their pursuit of an idealized lawn; especially in over-applying fertilizers in a way that overloads the local marine environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) have teamed up to address the problem with a public awareness campaign that encourages homeowners to limit their use of lawn care products to reduce their impact on ground water, local water bodies and the aquatic life that inhabit them.
EPA Director of Environmental Planning and Protection Walter Mugdan was joined by the Nature Conservancy and Mineola Mayor Jack Martins today at the Long Island Railroad Mineola station to unveil a new fertilizer and pesticide awareness poster, which will appear in all Long Island Railroad trains over the next few weeks.
"These posters, which link lawn care and environmental quality, will be displayed at the time of year when lawn care choices are made," Mr. Mugdan said. "Our actions as individuals, especially in a densely populated area like this, have a significant and cumulative impact on the environment. We hope that area residents will think carefully about how they care for their lawns."
Many water bodies in and around Long Island, including the Long Island Sound, have water quality problems. Even the relatively pristine Peconic Estuary between the east end's north and south forks is showing the stresses of pollution. Fertilizers and pesticides can contribute to those problems. When homeowners over-apply or incorrectly apply fertilizers and pesticides, the rain washes them into groundwater, streams, lakes, the Sound and the bays. Too much fertilizer in water can negatively impact the food web and cause nuisance algae to grow. When algae die, they use up the oxygen that fish need to survive. Pesticides in water can harm fish and aquatic plants.
The key message in EPA's fertilizer and pesticide awareness campaign to homeowners is to limit their use of chemical lawn care products and, when they are used, to ensure they are applied properly and effectively with minimum impact on the environment.
More information on the fertilizer and pesticide awareness campaign can be viewed at: www.epa.gov/region2/greenscaping.