Chemicals on Golf Course
The publicity related to chemicals and their use on golf courses is mostly negative, particularly given the present popularity of the “green” movement. Chemicals are seen as destructive to people, animals and plants. There are a lot of objects that have deep relations with chemicals including golf course.
According to Dr. Christopher J. Borgert, a toxicologist with Applied Pharmacology and Toxicology Inc. in Alchua, Florida, and researcher Raymond H. Snyder and Professor George H. Snyder, both of the University of Florida, there has been a lot of misinformation disseminated about chemicals. For golfers, understanding what is known can add an additional layer of protection against the possibility of illness. That is very important.
According to the research team, in general, when used according to the label directions, chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers approved for use on golf course turf are not believed to pose a real health risk to either the workers who apply the chemicals or to others who may come into contact with them after application, including golfers who play or watch the game. Animal testing is a reliable basis for toxicological assessment, but there is room for error and improvement. Despite the uncertainties, regulatory procedures have yielded decades of safe dispersion of chemicals and toxicologists are constantly striving to improve.
With respect to golfer exposures, we have only rough estimates of the amounts of pesticides that might be contacted during play. Although carefully conducted studies have measured dislodgeable residues during some golfing activities, little data exist on the frequency with which golfers actually engage in activities that increase their level of chemical contact during a round. There is also a lack of data regarding the variability of these behaviors among golfers. While it might seem that reasonable predictions about the behaviors of golfers that would result in exposure can be made, according to the research team, even the best predictions and assumptions are not substitutes for scientific data.
Despite a lack of scientific studies that point to specific risk-reduction practices, the research team reveals some obvious preventive measures golfers can take. First, golfers should avoid chewing on strands of grass or on tees that have been in the turf. Golfers should also avoid placing cigars or cigarettes on the ground while playing a shot.
Golf courses themselves can use procedures that reduce chemical exposure to golfers. Courses should leave chemically treated portions of the course closed for a conservatively sufficient time, based upon what is known.