Tag Archives: Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides

Speaking of poisoned waters and salmon…

The National Marine Fisheries Service has been studying the effects of chemical pesticides on threatened and endangered salmon species, and I have to say that I’m impressed with the thorough approach to this scientific challenge.

Not everyone is so impressed, however, and pesticide manufacturers have filed a federal lawsuit to block implementation of protection measures proposed by NMFS, but more about that in a moment.

Risk analysis is always a tricky subject, but it appears that the NMFS researchers have taken a step-by-step approach, turning over every stone.

The latest “biological opinion” (PDF 11.7 mb) is a 600-page report covering pesticides containing carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl. Like the previous biological opinion (PDF 11 mb) on diazinon, chlorpyrifos and malathion, the agency has determined that the pesticides pose a significant risk of extinction for listed salmon and outline further restrictions on their use.

Read my story in Wednesday’s Kitsap Sun and a well-written piece by Associated Press reporter Phuong Le.

NMFS scientists have been looking at how much of each pesticide can get into a stream under various kinds of applications. In the water, these neurotoxins can affect a fish directly — if not by killing them, by impairing their response to predators, their ability to get food, their ability to find their natal streams or their ability to connect with a mate.

Even if a fish is not harmed directly, these insecticides can affect fish simply by doing their job very well — killing off all or a significant portion of the insects that a fish needs to eat, grow and survive.

As if measuring all these effects are not enough, now we learn that chemicals may exhibit synergistic effects — making it necessary to look not just at the effects of a single chemical but how multiple chemicals in the water work together.

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