Are U’s green lawns truly green?

Let us stop poisoning the environment and ourselves.

by David J. Weiss

Thursday, April 22, was Earth Day. I was walking home, as usual, down West River Parkway and enjoying the nice weather. Suddenly an offensive odor reached me from the campus side of the road. I glanced across and saw the ominous little green (in color only) signs poked into the grass by the sidewalk. They proclaimed, in paraphrase, âÄúKeep off the grass because we just sprayed it with poison. (Happy Earth Day!)âÄù Oh, itâÄôs not poison unless youâÄôre a child or a dog or a cat âÄî or a rabbit, or a fox, or a squirrel, or a woodchuck, or a turtle, or a wild turkey, or a robin, or an eagle, or a chickadee or a âĦ you name it. (IâÄôve seen them all along that road over the years âÄî but many fewer in recent years.) But I can smell it; doesnâÄôt that mean that IâÄôm breathing it? And will it keep my lungs from growing dandelions in them (or whatever its purpose is) without doing me any harm? And what about the students sitting further back on the grass who didnâÄôt see the signs? Not only will they breathe it up close but it will get on their clothes, their books, their hands and faces, their laptops, and it will be absorbed by their skin and they will carry it home âÄî to their beds, their children, their pets and anyone else they encounter. Will it keep all of them from growing dandelions out of their ears? Or will it do something more sinister âÄî like causing breast cancer, immune system dysfunction, lymphoma, prostate cancer, brain damage, birth defects and more? We ban smoking in our buildings because it isnâÄôt healthy for our lungs and our bodies. Can this form of unnecessary pollution be doing us any good? What do we need it for âÄî so we wonâÄôt have a few dandelions or our grass will be greener? Right now the University of Minnesota is under financial stress. HereâÄôs one place where we can save some money and improve the health and well-being of our students, staff and faculty as well as all the other creatures that live on and around our campus. Stop spraying now and stop poisoning our campus. David J. Weiss University faculty member