Parks managers from around King County working hard to reduce pesticide use

A new online service makes it easy for King County families to find a park where they can play without concern about pesticides.

“Providing this information in one place helps parents learn more about pesticide use and recognizes the work of maintenance staff who are reducing the use of chemicals in parks,” said Dave Galvin, Hazardous Waste Program Manager.

The Pesticide-Free Places website,, is provided through a partnership between the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program, King County Parks, Seattle Parks and Recreation and suburban cities.

The map helps parents and caregivers find outdoor areas across King County where pesticide use has either been eliminated or is strictly limited – and new places are continually being added to this list.

Kids are most at risk from exposure toxic chemicals like pesticides as they crawl, role and play on lawns – and chemical exposures can have life-long impacts.

Parks staff from across King County are working to keep employees and visitors safe, while protecting streams, Puget Sound and the animals that call these places home.

The “pesticide-free” designation means that no EPA-registered pesticides are used in the maintenance of the park or recreation area and that integrated pest management techniques are used to tackle noxious weeds. “Pesticide-reduced” places identified on the map are those places that don’t have pesticides on lawns or in children’s play areas.

“Parents have an important role in ensuring the health and safety of their children,” said Catherine Karr, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at University of Washington. “This tool provides another healthy choice for families by identifying play areas where pesticide exposure is minimized.”

King County Parks manages more than 26,000 acres of parks and natural lands; of the 189 total sites, 102 are pesticide free and 87 are pesticide reduced.

Seattle Parks and Recreation has been reducing pesticides by using alternative strategies since 2001 at 390 parks, and is maintaining over 4,550 acres with few to no pesticides.

Other cities that manage their parks pesticide-free are: Black Diamond, Duvall, Shoreline and Hunts Point. Cities that manage their parks pesticide-free or with limited pesticide use are Auburn, Kenmore, Medina, Newcastle, Redmond, SeaTac and Snoqualmie.

Many King County residents have learned how to use natural yard care to reduce pesticides in their own yards to protect the environment and their families and now they can find parks that do the same.

For help with pesticide alternatives, call the Garden Hotline at 206-633-0224, or visit