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Where have all the songbirds gone?    

Lawn care products containing diazinon are killing our songbirds and could be making you sick. 

Diazinon has been banned from use on golf courses and sod farms because it is responsible for deaths of large numbers of birds on turf and in agriculture. YET... it is still allowed to be used in our common lawn and garden products. 

Diazinon is an organophosphate insecticide. About eight million pounds of diazinon are used in the United States annually. Like all pesticides in this chemical family, it kills insects and other animals, including humans, through its effect on the nervous system. It inhibits an enzyme, acetylcholinesterase (ACnE), that breaks down choline, a chemical used to transmit nerve impulses across a junction between nerves. Without functioning ACnE, choline builds up in the junction causing incoordination, convulsions, and ultimately death. 

Immediate effects of organophosphate insecticide poisoning are: Behavioral disturbances; uncoordination; muscle twitching; headache; dizziness; nausea; anxiety; irritability; loss of memory; sleep pattern change; restlessness; weakness; tremor; abdominal cramps; diarrhea; sweating; salivation; tearing; excessive nasal discharge; blurred vision; constriction of pupil; slowed heartbeat; confusion; incontinence. 

Long-term effects: Delayed neurotoxicity (tingling and burning sensations in the limb extremities followed by weakness in the lower limbs and ataxia. This progresses to paralysis, which in several cases, affect the upper limbs also...Recovery is seldom complete in adults); Some are cumulative; persistent anorexia; weakness, malaise; nerve damage via destruction of myelin sheath around nerve fibers; carcinogens; mutagens; fetotoxins; hormonal inhibition; eye damage; suspect mutagens; suspect carcinogens; sterility and impotence; embryotoxins; suspect teratogens; immunotoxins; indication of bone marrow damage and aplastic anemia; kills white blood cells; sperm and other reproductive abnormalities; suspect viral enhancers; ulcers; abnormal brain waves; reduced protein synthesis in fetus; liver damage; kidney damage; suppressed antibody production; decreased auditory attention, visual memory, problem solving, balance and dexterity. 

Environmental effects: Bird kills associated with diazinon use have been reported in every area of the country and at all times of the year. Diazinon is highly toxic to fish and bees. 

Residues of diazinon have been found in the air of garden stores where it was being displayed and sold. 


References: Rachel Carson Council,; Extension Toxicology Network,; Journal of Pesticide reform / fall 1992 / vol. 12 no. 3; NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards,; 

by Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is now 35 years old. Written over the years 1958 to 1962, it took a hard look at the effects of insecticides and pesticides on songbird populations throughout the United States, whose declining numbers yielded the silence to which her title attests. "What happens in nature is not allowed to happen in the modern, chemical-drenched world," she writes, "where spraying destroys not only the insects but also their principal enemy, the birds. When later there is a resurgence of the insect population, as almost always happens, the birds are not there to keep their numbers in check." The publication of her impeccably reported text helped change that trend by setting off a wave of environmental legislation and galvanizing the nascent ecological movement. It is justly considered a classic, and it is well worth rereading today. 



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