Most Americans take a clean, comfortable living environment for granted. We don’t spend a lot of time wondering if we will contract dysentery or malaria from a disease-carrying pest. However, our living environments were not always so conducive to health and safety. Pesticides, which come in many forms, play a large role in modern society in preventing disease outbreaks, controlling invasive species, and ensuring we have comfortable, safe places to live, work, and play. They also play a role in protecting global food supplies, enabling people to access unspoiled food each day across the globe.

When we hear the word “pesticide” we may think of chemicals sprayed onto crops or lawns. However, according to the law, a pesticide is any substance “intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest.”1 Pesticides can include naturally occurring substances like essential oils, zinc, or sulfur. Following are the most common types of pesticides:

  • Herbicides
  • Disinfectants
  • Fungicides
  • Insecticides
  • Natural and Biological Pesticides
  • Repellents
  • Rodenticides

Our Commitment

For the past 150 years Scotts Miracle-Gro has been a trusted provider of lawn and garden products to American consumers. Our products meet, and in many cases exceed, rigorous safety standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. None of the products in our controls line carry the EPA label of “danger” which is reserved for the most toxic class of pesticides.

We have also extended our commitments to the health of people, pets, and planet by ensuring all control products–herbicides, insecticides, and rodenticides–carry clear usage instructions for consumers. We test and retest our products to ensure they are easy to use properly and avoid accidents like spilling or non-target application. We are introducing more natural pest control products and identifying improved active ingredients, for example, in our GrubEx product. The new active ingredient, Acelepryn, controls more grub species than before while also reducing the number of non-target insects it impacts.

In 2016 we took a public stand by committing to eliminate chemicals called neonicotinoids, linked to declines in pollinator health, from our product line. We formed a partnership with the Pollinator Stewardship Council to educate consumers about how to protect and promote vital pollinators like bees through responsible pesticide use and creating pollinator-friendly spaces in their backyards.

Through these and many other ongoing initiatives, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company continues to help people of all ages express themselves on their own piece of the earth.

Following are just a few of the ways pesticides affect our everyday lives, protecting our health, living environments, and homes.

Pesticides and the American home

When thinking about pesticides in the home, it can be helpful to compare them to other common household products like laundry detergent. In the wrong amount, or administered incorrectly, these products pose a risk to health and safety. Yet most of us also acknowledge they can provide great benefits. With these household products and countless other everyday items, we can acknowledge the risks while balancing those against their potential benefits and then use this to inform actions, such as establishing usage guidelines and regularly evaluating product quality and safety.

Pesticides, both conventional and organic, show up in many places in the average American home. When used properly they pose little risk and provide significant, though often overlooked benefits. Disinfectant spray kills disease-causing bacteria; toilet bowl cleaner does the same, while antimicrobial soap cleanses hands and stops viruses from spreading. A flea and tick collar on the family dog prevents infestation by Lyme-carrying ticks. Insecticide spray eliminates gnats from destroying house plants and bleach kills mold growing in the back of the refrigerator.

Pesticides and public health

Flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, rats, and mice carry diseases including lyme disease, rabies, gastroenteritis, West Nile virus, Zika virus, dengue, malaria, salmonella, dysentery, hantavirus, and other potentially life-threatening illnesses. Cockroaches in particular can contribute to asthma and allergies when present inside the home.2 The judicious use of pesticides to control these threats to public health is essential to prevent disease outbreaks. Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds, mostly under 5 years old.3 One of the most effective ways to protect them is the use of bed nets treated with insecticide. Similarly, using insect repellent and ensuring the environment around one’s home is not a breeding ground for disease-carrying insects and other pests helps prevent a wide range of diseases.

Wasps and other stinging or biting insects can pose a danger to health, particularly for those who experience an allergic reaction. Preventing these insects from building nests near one’s home is about more than quality of life; it can mean the difference between life and death.

“Pesticides with public health uses are intended to limit the potential for disease, but in order to be effective, they must be properly applied. By their nature, many pesticides may pose some risk to humans, animals, or the environment because they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms. Safely using pesticides depends on using the appropriate pesticide and using it correctly.” –USEPA

Pesticides are not just about convenience. They perform an important health role in our homes by functioning as a barrier to the spread of disease–whether by killing germs when washing hands with soap or eliminating mosquito larvae from an outdoor koi pond.

Pesticides and invasive species

One of the best tools in the arsenal of government natural resource departments like the U.S. Forest Service and organizations working to preserve our natural environment is pesticides. Carefully applied, pesticides effectively block invasive species such as the emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, and kudzu vine from taking over and choking out native plants and wildlife.4

Pesticides and termites

Nearly two-thirds of Americans own their own homes.5 It is the biggest asset most of us will ever own, and protecting it is essential. Termites can wreak enormous damage on homes and other wooden structures in a relatively short amount of time. They cause billions of dollars in damage to American homes each year and can negatively affect a home’s resale value, especially if structural damage has occurred.6 Insecticides are an essential weapon in preventing termites and eradicating them once they have taken hold.

Pollinator Stewardship Council

  • As part of our commitment to responsible pesticide use, we launched a partnership with the Akron-based Pollinator Stewardship Council to educate residential gardeners about the benefits of pollinators and establishing pollinator gardens. Funding from The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation supported Ohio Pollinator Week in June 2017. The Council reached nearly 1,500 Ohioans through events at destination venues around the state.

More Information

  • 2016: Announced decision to phase out neonicotinoids from all controls products by 2021
  • 2016: Launched a partnership with the Pollinator Stewardship Council as part of the Pollinator Promise program
  • 2017: Broke ground on a two-acre pollinator habitat at SMG headquarters
  • 2018: In a joint partnership between the Ortho brand and Pollinator Stewardship Council, launched the “Bee Responsible” consumer education campaign to protect pollinators