Home » New survey finds Wales doesn’t know enough about the impact of pesticides

New survey finds Wales doesn’t know enough about the impact of pesticides

Terry Walton, BBC Radio 2's expert gardener and PestSmart ambassador

NEW research from Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has discovered that despite being a nation that’s happy to try eco-friendly ways of tackling weeds, people in Wales still don’t know enough about the potential impact of weedkillers on our environment.

In a survey of 2,000 people across Wales, the research from the not-for-profit water company found that half of respondents are happy to try alternatives to pesticides that won’t harm the environment. However, over a third (35%) admit they only understand a little about the impact pesticides, like weedkillers and slug pellets, entering our watercourses can have.

Almost a third of people in Wales (29%) shared that they’ve previously bought and used a pesticide in their home without fully understanding how to store and dispose of them properly. What’s more, 30% of people thought that weedkiller should be applied liberally over a weed to effectively tackle it, ignoring the recommended usage advice on the product label. 

The research has been released as Welsh Water launches a new website, PestSmart.wales, as a go-to hub of information and resources for the safe use, storage and disposal of pesticides. PestSmart aims to give people across Wales more information on the journey of the pesticide from weed to watercourse when not used properly. Welsh Water has now teamed up with BBC Radio 2’s expert gardener Terry Walton to promote a smarter approach to looking after gardens and outdoor spaces.

PestSmart ambassador Terry Walton said: “With many years of gardening behind me, I’ve learnt first-hand that we don’t need to rely on herbicides to effectively tackle the weeds in our garden or use pesticides to keep pesky insects from eating our plants.

“Although Welsh Water’s survey figures show that in Wales we have some way to go to fully understanding the impact pesticides can have on our environment, Welsh people are willing to try friendlier alternatives to weedkillers and the like. This is good news, as the PestSmart website has many alternative suggestions to tackling those weeds.

“PestSmart is about giving people the resources to understand the impact of pesticides while also sharing best practice for using them, if alternatives have been tried first. By reducing our reliance on pesticides as a nation, we can protect our precious water, wildlife and people for generations.”

When it came to furry friends, a quarter of respondents said that they don’t understand the impact pesticides can have on animals, despite the chemical ingredients being potentially harmful to pets.

Welsh Water’s survey also discovered that 32% of people in Wales admit they’re not at all confident when it comes to throwing away leftover pesticide and its container properly. A further 6% of respondents wrongly thought that pouring the product down the sink with boiling water was the correct method.

Phillippa Pearson, Head of Water Services Science at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water said: “We know that pesticides can form an essential and everyday role. However, if stored, used or disposed of incorrectly, they can be harmful to people, water and wildlife. Our routine water monitoring programme has detected increasing traces of pesticides in some areas across Wales. While these levels are too low to pose a risk to tap water, they’re enough to mean the water needs more treatment to meet rigorous drinking water standards and ensure we can continue to supply wholesome water to our customers.

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“By safeguarding and improving raw water quality before it gets to our water treatment works, we can avoid using additional chemicals and energy to get your drinking water perfect. Working together to reduce our reliance on pesticides helps us to keep bills low and safeguards and protects the environment for generations to come.”

PestSmart has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

For more information, go to www.PestSmart.wales