When you buy a chemical product from your local store such as a chemical herbicide, fungicide or pesticide, does Inert ingredients mean a chemical product is safe?
What are Inert ingredients?
In pesticides and herbicides are those ingredients that are not intended to affect a target pest. They are added to enhance some ingredients. For example, the pesticides solubility in water. In other words, inert ingredients are mixed into pesticides products as a carrier or sticking agent. They are often as toxic as the active ingredient. For most people “inert” means that these chemicals don’t pose a major health. Or the product is not going to cause an environmental threat.
Active ingredients, on the other hand, is chemically active against a target pest. Active ingredients are labeled under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Inert ingredients however, are not disclosed. Since each manufacturer claim that the ingredients used on their products are trade secrets. What is “inert” in one product, can be an active ingredient in another product. And sometimes in a chemical product, the “inert” ingredient is more powerful, or more dangerous, than its active ingredient.
When using any type of products, I always try to determine what are the risks involved in using such products. Do I want to use pesticides to kill weeds? Do I want to use something less toxic to control those weeds? If I read a pesticide label, and the manufacturer is asking me to wear protective gear in order to apply their product, do I consider that product to be safe? Heck no!
When using chemical pesticides, read the label. And read it all! Use the precautionary principle. It states that when an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken. Even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.
Here is a great quote from the European Environment Agency (EAA), regarding the misuse or neglect of the precautionary principle. “In evaluating the pros and cons of using the precautionary principle, it is important to remember that the harm from most hazards analysed in the case studies turned out to be more diverse and widespread than anticipated and such damage is often found to occur at exposures lower than initially considered dangerous” .
When I buy an item at the local garden store, or if I buy vegetables at a local farmer’s market, I want to know what I’m buying. I want to be sure that what I buy, or eat, is going to be safe for me, my family and pets, and the environment.
Do you still think chemical pesticides are still “safe”?