Treated grass clippings in compost

Asked April 4, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT

Hi - I grow an organic (or try to keep it organic) veggie garden and normally use grass clippings from late Aug on for making compost. Recently the clover has really taken over my lawn and my wife would like it treated. Is there a safe way of treating it and still be able to use the grass clippings for my compost? If it is sprayed in May would the grass clippings in late August be safe to use? Is there a product you can recommend that is effective but not too harsh? Any help is appreciated. Thanks, Sam.

Montgomery County Pennsylvania

1 Response

I am sorry, but based on the following information, there is no way that any chemical used to control clover in your lawn would render the grass clippings as "organic".


  • The health data assessed by EPA for the registration of pesticides comes from the manufacturer of the pesticide. EPA is not obligated under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to review peer-reviewed scientific literature.
  • The U.S. GAO has told Congress on several occasions that the public is misled on pesticide safety by statements characterizing pesticides as “safe” or “harmless.” EPA states that no pesticide is 100 percent safe. (xxiii-a)
  • Pesticide testing protocol was developed before science fully understood the human immune and hormonal system. EPA still does not evaluate data for several neurological effects or disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system.
  • EPA does not evaluate the health and environmental effects of actual pesticide formulations sold on the shelf. Data submitted to the EPA also does not account for low-dose effects, synergistic effects with inerts or combined exposure to more than one pesticide at a time.
  • Most states have preemption laws that prohibit localities from passing local pesticide-related ordinances that are stricter than the state policy. (xxiv)
  • Pesticide products are made of an active ingredient and several inert, or other, ingredients. Inert ingredients are neither chemically, biologically nor toxicologically inert. Inerts are not disclosed to the public due to their status as “trade secrets”.
  • Active ingredients usually comprise only 5% of the actual product; the other ingredients make up the majority of a given pesticide product or formulation. (xxv)
  • Inert ingredients can be more toxic to humans than the active ingredient. Ethylene chloride, a nerve poison, is an example of an inert ingredient linked with damage to the heart, eyes, liver, and adrenal glands.
  • 800 out of 1200 inerts are classified as “of unknown toxicity,” 57 as highly toxic due to known carcinogenicity, adverse reproductive effects, birth defects, neurotoxicity and/or other chronic effects, and 64 as potentially toxic. (xxvi)
  • 394 chemicals used as inert ingredients are listed as active ingredients in other pesticide products, and more than 200 inerts are considered hazardous pollutants and/or hazardous waste under federal environmental statutes. (xxvii)