For millions of homeowners, mowing, edging and weeding have become a weekend ritual. Some of us love it and some hate it--but we all love the look of a manicured lush green lawn.

Unfortunately, the lawn care products used to achieve that picturesque House and Gardenimage can also be hazardous to your family's health, your pet's health and the environment.

Each year, homeowners purchase approximately 100 million pounds of conventional weed and pesticide control products that contain toxic chemical ingredients.

According to Beyond Pesticides, "Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system."

Pregnant women, infants and children, the aged and the chronically ill are at greatest risk from pesticide exposure and chemically induced immune-suppression, which can increase susceptibility to cancer.

Scientific studies find pesticide residues such as the weed killer 2,4-D and the insecticide carbaryl inside homes, due to drift and track-in, where they contaminate air, dust, surfaces and carpets and expose children at levels ten times higher than preapplication levels."

Just as with toxic household cleaners, children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic chemicals used in lawn care products, because of close-to-the ground play and frequent hand-to-mouth activity.

The same holds true when it comes to man's best friend. Dogs and cats are highly susceptible to chemical poisoning caused by lawn care products because their nose and mouth are so close to the ground and the way they groom themselves.

Fortunately, as environment and health conscious consumers continue to fuel the "green" revolution, market demand for organic lawn care companies are sprouting up all over the country and the availability of non-toxic, eco-friendly products are making their way onto garden center shelves.

Whether you handle lawn care yourself or use a service, homeowners can protect themselves, their children and pets by simply choosing safe eco-friendly lawn care products.

Here are a few tips for "greening" your own little piece of paradise:

  • If you use a lawn care service, discuss using organic methods, or choose a service that specifically uses least-toxic methods.
  • Use an organic-based (versus chemical-based) fertilizer.
  • Spray or pour vinegar directly on weeds, about 3 or 4 tablespoons per gallon of water.
  • Control pests by spraying a little dishwashing liquid and water on problem areas.
  • Use an electric mower instead of gas to reduce pollution and set the blades at 3" height.

Click here for a complete guide to non-toxic pest control.

Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology (r) at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. Deirdre is the author of four books, including three national bestsellers. She is a frequent speaker on green living and children's health issues, and is a contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com. For more information go to www.dienviro.com