Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: April 24, 2015
DOVER (April 24, 2015) - The Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds homeowners to be water-wise and test their soil before applying lawn chemicals and fertilizers this spring. Lawn chemical applications can affect the quality of drinking water in the future.
"Pesticides leach into the soil and, if used improperly, can pollute groundwater that is used for drinking water statewide," said Thom May, DPH administrator. "Pesticides can also run off into surface waters, which are drinking water sources in New Castle County. There are many environmentally-friendly fertilizers available."
EPA drinking water regulations set limits on safe levels of certain chemicals in public water systems. DPH regularly tests Delaware's public water systems for nitrates, pesticides, herbicides, and bacteria. The Division's Office of Drinking Water (ODW) advises private well owners - especially those with more vulnerable shallow wells - to annually test their water. Nitrates in drinking water are linked to fertilizers, animal waste, failing septic systems, and plant materials that enter the soil. Nitrates cause acute problems for certain vulnerable populations such as infants, nursing mothers, and pregnant women. Health risks from pesticides and herbicides in drinking water are classified as chronic and may cause liver, kidney, and nervous system disorders, and possible reproductive effects.
Before beginning a lawn care program, the DPH suggests Delawareans consult with a lawn care professional or the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Service. Cooperative Extension offices analyze soil for $7.50 per sample and can make recommendations on appropriate lawn care needs based on test results.
Homeowners choosing to apply lawn fertilizers and pesticides without first consulting a professional must follow chemical label instructions, avoid lawn chemical spills, know the location and depth of private wells, and whenever possible, maintain a healthy lawn naturally. The Delaware Department of Agriculture maintains a list of certified pesticide applicators, available at de.gov/pesticides or by calling 302-698-4571.
Other resources for protecting drinking water are DPH's ODW at 302-741-8630, or the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Offices:
To purchase a DPH private well test kit, visit one of the DPH locations listed below.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.