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Household Use of Chemical Pesticides and Fertilizers

Since 1994, chemical pesticide and fertilizer use in Canada has declined. In 2009, 15% of Canadian households with a lawn or garden used chemical pesticides compared to 31% in 1994. The largest decrease occurred in Quebec, where household chemical pesticide use fell from 30% to 4%. The prairie provinces, led by Manitoba, remained the region where household use of chemical pesticides was the most widespread. A 2006 cosmetic pesticide ban in Quebec and a similar 2009 ban in Ontario have likely contributed to the drop in pesticide use in these provinces between 1994 and 2009. 

In 2009, 22% of Canadian households with a lawn or garden used chemical fertilizers, compared to 47% in 1994. The largest decreases occurred in Quebec and Ontario, while Quebec households remained the lowest users of chemical fertilizers in 2009. Households in the prairie provinces, led by Saskatchewan, used the most chemical fertilizer.

Percentage of households in Canada using chemical pesticides and fertilizers on lawns and gardens, 1994, 2005, 2007 and 2009, and by province for 1994 and 2009

Percentage of households in Canada using chemical pesticides and fertilizers on lawns and gardens, 1994, 2005, 2007 and 2009, and by province for 1994 and 2009

Note: Provincial chemical pesticide and fertilizer data for the provinces for 2005 and 2007 are available in the data table accompanying this chart.
Source: Statistics Canada (2011) Households and the Environment 2009, Catalogue No. 11-526-XIE. Statistics Canada (2009) Households and the Environment 2007, Catalogue No. 11-526-XIE. Statistics Canada (2008) Households and the Environment 2006, Catalogue No. 11 526-XIE. Statistics Canada (1995) Households and the Environment 1994, Catalogue No. 11-526.

Pests, such as weeds and insects, can destroy lawns and gardens. Chemical pesticides enhance the appearance of lawns and gardens by eliminating pests. There are two general varieties of pesticide: natural pesticides, such as nematodes and ladybugs; and chemical pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, which are manufactured. Chemical pesticides can have negative effects on human and environmental health by contaminating air, water, soil and food sources. In addition to killing target insects, insecticides can kill other species beneficial to lawns and gardens. For example, insects are a source of food for many birds, but this food source can be contaminated or reduced by pesticides. Many municipalities and provinces have, or are considering, laws restricting the use of pesticides in cities.

Fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and are added to lawns and gardens to make them greener and thicker. There are two general varieties of fertilizers: natural fertilizers like manure; and chemical fertilizers, which are manufactured. If fertilizer is applied improperly, or in excess, these nutrients can run off into stormwater sewers and eventually reach lakes and rivers. When the amount of nutrients in a river or lake becomes too high, it can cause excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae.

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