Household use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers

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Households use chemical pesticides and fertilizers to improve the look of their lawns and gardens. These chemicals can pollute lakes and rivers that may be sources of drinking water for some communities. Chemical pesticides are also toxic to many forms of life and can threaten beneficial species, such as bees that are important polinators. The indicators report the percentage of households using chemical pesticides or fertilizers, among households with a lawn or garden only.

National results

National household use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers

Key results

  • Between 1994 and 2019 there has been an overall decrease in the percentage of households in Canada using chemicalFootnote 1  pesticides and fertilizers on their lawns and gardens
  • Nonetheless, since 2013, the percentage of households using pesticides has remained stable at 19% and increased slightly to 20% in 2019
  • Further, despite the decrease in the percentage of households using chemical fertilizers from 1994 to 2011, their use has increased since 2011 to reach 28% in 2019

Percentage of households in Canada using chemical pesticides and fertilizers, selected years

Two column charts showing % use of chemical fertilizers - See long description below
Data table for the long description
Percentage of households in Canada using chemical pesticides and fertilizers, selected years
Year Households using chemical pesticides
(percentage)
Households using chemical fertilizers
(percentage)
1994 31 47
2005 29 32
2007 25 27
2009 15 22
2011 15 21
2013 19 25
2015 19 28
2017 19 24
2019 20 28

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.08 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The percentage of households refer to the percentage of households with a lawn or garden only. In 1994 and 2005, the Households and the Environment Survey did not make the distinction between natural and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, there were not many natural remedies available at that time. The impact on the trend is therefore expected to be minimal.
Source: Statistics Canada (2021) Table 38-10-0052-01 - Use of fertilizer and pesticides. Statistics Canada (2008) Pesticides and fertilizers.

The percentage of households using chemical pesticides and fertilizers decreased from 31% and 47% in 1994 to 15% and 21% in 2011 respectively. For pesticides, this percentage increased to 19% in 2013 and has remained relatively stable since. For fertilizers, it fluctuated slightly to reach 28% in 2019.

Cosmetic pesticide bans implemented in many provinces and municipalities have likely influenced the reduction of pesticide use since the mid-1990's.

Regional results

Household use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers by province

Key results

  • In 2019, the Prairie provinces had the highest percentage of households using chemical pesticides and fertilizers
  • The percentage of households using chemical pesticides has decreased since 1994 in most provinces, except in Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta
  • The percentage of households using chemical fertilizers has decreased since 1994 in every province

Percentage of households using chemical pesticides and fertilizers by province, Canada, 1994 and 2019

Two column charts showing % of households with lawn or garden in each province using chemical fertilizers - Long description below
Data table for the long description
Percentage of households using chemical pesticides and fertilizers by province, Canada, 1994 and 2019
Province Households using chemical pesticides in 1994
(percentage)
Households using chemical pesticides in 2019
(percentage)
Households using chemical fertilizers in 1994
(percentage)
Households using chemical fertilizers in 2019
(percentage)
Newfoundland and Labrador 9 10 26 22
Prince Edward Island 12 n/a 23 14
Nova Scotia 19 8 35 21
New Brunswick 20 10 36 19
Quebec 30 12 41 20
Ontario 34 19 51 28
Manitoba 30 35 39 34
Saskatchewan 37 47 57 45
Alberta 36 36 58 41
British Columbia 30 17 47 27

Note: n/a = not available.

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.52 kB)

How this indicator was calculated

In 2019, the highest users of chemical pesticides were Saskatchewan (47% of households), Alberta (36% of households) and Manitoba (35% of households).

Between 1994 and 2019, the largest drop in the percentage of households using chemical pesticides occurred in Quebec, where it decreased from 30% to 12%.

In general, households in provinces that introduced bans on cosmetic use of pesticidesFootnote 2  had lower rates of use of the products on their lawns and gardens than the national average of 22% in 2019:

  • 19% in Ontario
  • 12% in Quebec
  • 10% in Newfoundland and Labrador
  • 10% in New Brunswick
  • 8% in Nova Scotia

In Prince Edward Island and Ontario, the percentage of households using chemical pesticides significantly decreased following the enforcement of the bans (2010 and 2008 respectively). In Prince Edward Island, the rate of use dropped from 17% in 2009 to 7% in 2011, while a decrease from 30% in 2007 to 10% in 2009 was observed in Ontario.

Between 1994 and 2019, the largest drop in the percentage of households using chemical fertilizers occurred in Ontario (from 51% to 28%) and Quebec (from 41% to 20%). In 2019, the proportion of households using chemical fertilizers in the provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador was lower than the national average of 27%. The share of households using fertilizers was the highest in the Prairie provinces, led by Saskatchewan.

About the indicator

About the indicators

What the indicators measure

The indicators report the percentage of households with a lawn or garden that use chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers in Canada and by province.

Why these indicators are important

Households use chemical pesticides, which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, to kill pests and to help improve the look of lawns and gardens. These products can contaminate the air, water, soil and food sources and have negative effects on human and environmental health. For example, insecticides can harm or kill other non-target insects, soil microbes and insect-eating birds, disrupting the natural balance of the lawn or the garden's ecosystem.

Chemical fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and are added to lawns and gardens to help them grow greener and thicker. However, if fertilizer is applied improperly or in excess, these nutrients can pollute drainage and storm waters and can eventually reach lakes and rivers. Urban environments often make it easier for these nutrients to run off the land into water bodies because of the many hard surfaces. In addition, water in storm sewers is often not treated before it reaches lakes or rivers and can cause excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae.

Related indicators

The Water quality in Canadian rivers indicators provide a measure of the ability of river water across Canada to support plants and animals.

The Phosphorus levels in the offshore waters of the Canadian Great Lakes, Nutrients in the St. Lawrence River, and Nutrients in Lake Winnipeg indicators report the status of total phosphorus and total nitrogen levels in these 3 ecosystems.

The Phosphorus loading to Lake Erie indicators report on the total phosphorus loadings flowing directly into Lake Erie or from its tributary rivers.

The Risk to soil and water quality from agriculture indicator is comprised of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Soil and water quality agri-environmental performance indices which aggregate multiple indicators related to soil and water quality. They are derived from models and formulae that integrate data for soil, climate and landscape with data about crops, land use and land management.

Data sources and methods

Data sources and methods

Data sources

Data for the indicators are from Statistics Canada's Households and the Environment Survey. Data are available for 1994 and every second year from 2005 to 2019.

More information

Canadian households are the target population of the Households and the Environment Survey.

The 1994 survey was conducted as a supplement to the May 1994 Labour Force Survey. It surveyed 38 080 households and yielded a response rate of 83.1%.

The 2005-2006 survey was conducted as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey from February 15 to April 15, 2006. It surveyed 36 431 households and yielded a response rate of 77.8%.

The surveys for 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 were conducted from October to December of their respective years. Survey samples were selected from respondents (January to June) to Statistics Canada's Canadian Community Health Survey, conducted as follow-up surveys.

The sample size and response rate for the biennial surveys were:

  • 29 980 households and 72.3% response rate in 2007
  • 20 000 households and 73.8% response rate in 2009
  • 20 000 households and 74.3% response rate in 2011
  • 31 962 households and 71.8% response rate in 2013
  • 21 348 households and 69.9% response rate in 2015
  • 22 983 households and 67.2% response rate in 2017
  • 22 000 households and 69.9% response rate in 2019

Household estimates are produced using weights associated with each sampled household. The weight indicates the number of households in the sampled unit.Footnote 3 

Methods

Data from Statistics Canada's Households and the Environment Survey are used in these indicators. No changes or additional calculations are performed on the data.

More information

Statistics Canada designed the questionnaire for the Households and the Environment Survey in consultation with stakeholders involved in the Canadian Environment Sustainability Indicators program. The questionnaire for each survey year was designed to follow standard practices and wording.

For the 1994 survey, households were asked to respond to the following question:

  • In the last 12 months, did anyone, including commercial operators, apply the following chemicals to the yard, lawn or garden: pesticides or fertilizers? (Yes, No, Don't know)

For the 2005-2006 survey, households were asked to respond to the following questions:

  • In 2005, were any chemical fertilizers applied to your lawn/garden? (Yes, No, Don't know/Refused)
  • In 2005, were any weed killers, pesticides, or fungicides applied to your lawn/garden? Include fertilizer and pesticide mixes like "Weed and Feed." (Yes, No, Don't know/Refused)

For both the 2007 and 2009 surveys, households were asked to respond to the following questions:

  • In the last 12 months, were any chemical fertilizers applied to your lawn/garden/lawn or garden? (Yes, No, Don't know/Refused)
  • In the last 12 months, were any chemical pesticides such as weed killers (herbicides), bug killers (insecticides), or fungicides applied to your lawn/garden/lawn or garden? Please include fertilizer and herbicide mixes such as "Weed and Feed". (Yes, No, Don't know/Refused)

For the 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 surveys, households were asked to respond to the following questions:

  • In the past 12 months, were any chemical fertilizers applied to your lawn/garden/lawn or garden? (Yes, No, Don't know/Refused)
  • In the past 12 months, were any chemical pesticides such as weed killers (herbicides), bug killers (insecticides), or fungicides applied to your lawn/garden/lawn or garden? (Yes, No, Don't know/Refused)

For the 2019 survey, the questions were slightly modified, with the "Refused" response option being removed and the extension of the use of chemical pesticides to flowerbeds:

  • In the past 12 months, were any chemical fertilizers applied to your lawn/garden or flowerbed/lawn, garden or flowerbed? (Yes, No, Don't know)
  • In the past 12 months, were any chemical pesticides such as weed killers (herbicides), bug killers (insecticides), or fungicides applied to your lawn/garden or flowerbed/lawn, garden or flowerbed? (Yes, No, Don't know)
Resources

Resources

References

Statistics Canada (1995) 1994 Households and the Environment Survey. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2008) 2005-2006 Households and the Environment Survey. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2008) Pesticides and fertilizers. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2009) 2007 Households and the Environment Survey. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2011) 2009 Households and the Environment Survey. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2013) 2011 Households and the Environment Survey. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2015) 2013 Households and the Environment Survey. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2017) 2015 Households and the Environment Survey. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2019) 2017 Households and the Environment Survey. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2021) 2019 Households and the Environment Survey. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Statistics Canada (2021) Table 38-10-0052-01 - Use of fertilizer and pesticides. Retrieved on June 10, 2021.

Related information

How to have a healthy lawn

Using pesticides

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