The Canadian Cancer Society is calling on the B.C. government to ban the sale of cosmetic pesticides — the chemicals used to kill weeds, insects or other pests for aesthetic reasons.

Quebec has a ban in place on using such pesticides, and a ban on selling them goes into effect in Ontario on Earth Day, April 22.

Kathryn Seely, the cancer society's manager of public issues, has been making the case to lawmakers in Victoria that B.C. should follow suit.

B.C. municipalities with pesticide bylaws in place

  • Victoria
  • Comox
  • Courtenay
  • Cumberland
  • Esquimalt
  • Sechelt
  • Gibsons
  • Whistler
  • West Vancouver
  • North Vancouver
  • Vancouver
  • Maple Ridge
  • Port Moody
  • Burnaby
  • New Westminster (comes into effect March 2010)
  • Kelowna
  • Nelson
  • Invermere (comes into effect May 2009)

A growing body of evidence links pesticides to cancer, she said, including adult and childhood leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer and some brain cancers.

"The Canadian Cancer Society is concerned that there might be cancer-causing substances in pesticides," she said.

"We know that the evidence is suggestive, but it is growing.... There is some risk of harm, and the use of lawn and garden pesticides are non-essential. Many safe alternatives exist, and there's no health benefit to using lawn and garden pesticides."

Eighteen B.C. municipalities, including Vancouver and Victoria, have already banned the use of the chemicals, but it would take provincial action to ban selling them.

"The province can then eliminate the patchwork of the 18 municipal bylaws that exist across British Columbia so that all British Columbians are protected from exposure to unnecessary chemicals and pesticides," Seely said.

The Canadian Cancer Society is calling on all candidates running in the May provincial election to commit to implementing a B.C.-wide ban on the sale of cosmetic pesticides by next fall.