The province adopted the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act in June 2008 and corresponding changes to the pesticide regulation (Ontario Regulation 63/09) took effect on April 22, 2009. The regulation prohibits the use of 96 active ingredients in cosmetic pesticides for public and private lawns and gardens, as well as the sale of 172 products containing these chemicals. An additional 103 “mixed use” products are subject to new retail restrictions. These products contain active ingredients that are banned for cosmetic use on lawns and gardens but can be used in other products for purposes beyond the scope of the ban (e.g., indoor insect control) or that are permitted under an exemption for the “promotion of public health and safety.”

The latter allows pesticides containing the active ingredients glyphosate and glufosinate, which are otherwise prohibited for cosmetic purposes, to be used to control plants that are poisonous to the touch, such as poison ivy. There is no requirement for third-party certification at the point of sale to verify that the pesticides are actually being purchased for an exempted use. However, self-service retail access to mixed-use products (which are generally banned for cosmetic use but still permitted for use in certain circumstances) is prohibited and store owners are required to provide information about the cosmetic pesticide ban to customers who purchase them.

The exemption for the “promotion of public health and safety” also permits use of pesticides to control animals that bite or sting, are venomous, or carry disease (including wasps, mosquitoes and ticks) and to control plants, fungi or animals that affect public works and other buildings and structures. In addition, there is a limited exemption for arboriculture. In this latter case, the written opinion of a specialist must be obtained, stating that the pesticide is necessary to maintain the health of the tree. Finally, the Ministry of Natural Resources may authorize the use of pesticides to control invasive species, to benefit a species of flora or fauna that is native to Ontario or to protect or restore a rare ecosystem.

Although there are restrictions on which pesticides can be used under the exemption for plants that are poisonous to the touch (e.g., only glyphosate and glufosinate products), this is not the case for other exempted uses. Golf courses are generally exempt from the Ontario ban, but to qualify for this exemption they must be certified in Integrated Pest Management and must submit annual reports disclosing the amount of each pesticide used along with plans to minimize pesticide use. The reports must be made available to the public, presented at an annual public meeting and posted online (as of 2012).

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment maintains guidelines for classifying pesticides under the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act. Only substances that meet proposed low-risk criteria (see below) and those identified as reduced-risk bio-pesticides are allowed for cosmetic use; others will be added to the list of banned active ingredients. The same classification system applies for any new pesticide registered by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).

The Ontario provincial ban superseded municipal pesticide bylaws. This means that municipalities are not able to adopt tougher restrictions on pesticide use and do not have a clear role in enforcement.

As proposed by the PMRA, lower-risk pesticides have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • They have a non-toxic mode of action.
  • They are of low toxicity to organisms the product is not targeting.
  • They do not persist in the environment.
  • The product is used in ways that do not cause significant exposure. For example, the product is premixed or it is applied in a closed system, reducing human and environmental exposure.
  • They have been widely available to the public for other uses for some time

Ontario’s Ministry of Environment’s community education includes Beautiful Lawns and Gardens Naturally and information for industries and institutions and homeowners.

Pesticide free oui http://www.equiterre.org/sites/fichiers/bilan_reglementations_pesticides_2011_en_03.pdf

One year after the bans were in place, in 2010, the Ontario Minister for the Environment stated “Ontario’s lawns, gardens, school yards and parks are a lot healthier since the province’s cosmetic pesticides ban came into effect on Earth Day, April 22, 2009. The government believes the use of pesticides to control weeds and insects for purely cosmetic reasons presents an unnecessary risk to our families and pets, especially when we can have healthier lawns and gardens without chemicals. We have listened to medical experts – like the Canadian Cancer Society – who have made a convincing case for reducing our exposure to pesticides, particularly children who are generally more susceptible to the potential toxic effects of pesticides. The ban is part of the government’s commitment to protect families, especially children from pollution and toxic chemicals through tough new environmental laws. (Website, Ontario Minister for the Environment)

One year after the ban, there was an 80% decline in most common pesticides in surface waters. “Research done by the province found that, following the legislation’s implementation, concentrations of lawn pesticides in urban streams dropped dramatically. In some waterways, for example, the amount of 2,4-D weed-killer was down 94 per cent.” (Gideon Forman, Huffpost British Columbia, March 2013)

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