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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Aquatic Organisms' Category


24
Sep

U.S. Geological Survey Finds Mixtures of Pesticides Are Widespread in U.S. Rivers and Streams

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2020) A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, reveals the presence of pesticides is widespread in U.S. rivers and streams, with over almost 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. Pesticide contamination in waterways is historically commonplace as a 1998 USGS analysis revealed pesticides are commonly found in all U.S. waterways, with at least one pesticide detectable. Thousands of tons of pesticides enter rivers and streams around the U.S. from agricultural and nonagricultural sources, which contaminate essential drinking water sources, such as surface water and groundwater. As the number of pesticides in waterways increases, it has detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystem health, especially as some pesticides work synergistically with others to increase the severity of the effect. Reports like these are a significant tool in determining appropriate regulatory action to protect human, animal, and environmental health. USGS concludes, “Identification of primary contributors to toxicity could aid efforts to improve the quality of rivers and streams to support aquatic life.” Water is the most abundant and important chemical compound on earth, essential to survival and the main component of all living things. Less than three percent of that water […]

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31
Aug

Act by Sept. 3—Help Keep Toxic Herbicides Out of Lake Tahoe, Protect this Treasured and Sacred Ecosystem; Advance Alternatives 

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2020) We don’t need to use toxic weed killers to manage unwanted vegetation in Lake Tahoe, given the havoc they will wreak on a treasured and sacred ecosystem. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board (TRPA/LRWQCB) are accepting comments on a draft environmental impact report/ environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS) analyzing environmental impacts of a proposed Tahoe Keys Lagoons Aquatic Weed Control Methods Test (“Project”). Unless we all speak up, the Project could involve the application of herbicides to Lake Tahoe. The Action Alternative 1: Testing of Non-Herbicidal Methods Only is the environmentally best choice and should be selected for the proposed weed control test program. Protect Lake Tahoe from toxic weed killers—take action by Sept. 3, 11:59 pm. Located on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is treasured for its scenic and ecological values not just by residents of those states, but by many others. The Washoe Tribe considers the lake to be a sacred life-sustaining water, the center of the world. The lake is designated an “Outstanding National Resource Water” under the Clean Water Act, and is recognized nationally and globally as a natural resource of special significance.  The […]

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21
Jul

Combined Effects of Pesticide Exposure and Climate Change Significantly Harm Coral Reef Fish

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2020) Climate change and pesticide pollution are known to put coral reef fish at significant risk, but research published in Nature Communications shows how these risks can be both overlapping and synergistic. “Fish face a variety of human-induced stressors including increasing water temperatures and pollution from agricultural pesticides,” says study coauthor William Feeney, PhD from Griffith University. According to researchers, both of these stressors alone harm the endocrine (hormone) system and are subsequently exacerbated in combination with each other. To study the impact of climate change and pesticide pollution, researchers exposed convict surgeon fish (Acanthurus triostegus) to varying levels of water temperature increases, as well as varying levels of the insecticide chlorpyrifos. The scientists then observed how these changes affected the level of hormones the fish were expressing, and how they acted in the presence of predators. “Both a three-degree temperature increase and exposure to pesticide led to a decrease in the amount of thyroid hormones in exposed fish,” said Marc Besson, PhD, lead author, from PSL Research University, Paris. “These hormones control the development of sensory structures such as the retina, the nostrils and the lateral line, which enables fish to detect nearby water movement.” […]

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02
Jul

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Including Pesticides, Have a Multi-Generational Impact on Commercially Beneficial Inland Silverside Fish

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2020) Exposure to low levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly in waterways, including pesticides, can impact future generations of major commercial fish, despite no direct exposure to the chemicals, according to research published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science by Oregon State University (OSU) researchers. Many studies assess the acute or chronic health implications associated with endocrine disruptors on a single generation but lack information on multi-generational impacts that can provide vital information on the fundamental survivability or fitness of many species. This study highlights the significance of understanding the implications of endocrine disruptors, even at low levels of exposure, as parental exposure can have adverse epigenetic consequences for future generations. Kaley Major, a Ph.D. fellow at Oregon State University (OSU) and lead research author, explains, “What t[his] gets at is something your grandparents may have come into contact within their environment can still be affecting the overall structure of your DNA in your life today.” Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., chemical substances like toxic pesticides foreign to an organism or ecosystem). Past research shows exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can adversely impact human, animal—and thus environmental—health, by altering the natural hormones in the body responsible for […]

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06
May

Trump EPA Waives Requirement to Monitor Waterways for Hazardous Weedkiller

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2020) The Trump Administration announced late last month that it is waiving a requirement that multinational chemical company Syngenta-Chemchina continue to monitor Midwest waterways for the presence of the weedkiller atrazine throughout 2020. While rationalized by the Administration as “due to the unanticipated impact of Covid-19,” the move will instead put residents health at increased risk. Atrazine is one of 78 pesticides that has been linked to the development of respiratory ailments like wheeze. “The public will now have no idea whether dangerous levels of atrazine are reaching rivers and streams throughout the Midwest. That’s absurd and reckless,” said Nathan Donley, PhD a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Syngenta should suspend the sale and use of this extremely toxic pesticide until it can safely ensure it’s not polluting Corn Belt waterways.” Syngenta, which merged with state-owned China Nation Chemical Corporation (Chemchina) in 2016, has been bound by EPA to monitor Midwestern waterways since a 2004 review by the agency. This is because atrazine is a potent groundwater contaminant. Just two years ago, an analysis by the Environmental Working Group found atrazine to be exceeding legal limits in drinking water for many Midwestern states. […]

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28
Apr

One Quarter of Global Insect Population Lost Since 1990

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2020) Roughly a quarter of the global insect population has been wiped out since 1990, according to new research published in the journal Science. Billed as one of the most comprehensive assessments to date, the study finds significant overall insect declines, but notes of some specific bright spots. While variation in the ongoing crisis is to be expected, ultimately the trends in the data show the need for immediate policy and regulatory action to protect the insect world as the foundation of global food webs. The team of European scientists behind the research analyzed 166 studies spread out over 41 countries, and consisting of over 1,600 sites, with data beginning in the mid-1920s. Overall trends found declines in terrestrial insect biomass to be nearly 1% each year (~9% each decade). However, contrasting this data was a bright spot – freshwater insects were found to be increasing at an annual rate just over 1% (~11% each decade). The authors caution, however, that because fresh water covers only 2.4% of the earth’s surface, the increase may not be a good spatial representative of broader trends. While North America appeared to show more significant declines when compared to Europe, […]

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18
Mar

Infectious Human Disease, Snail Fever, Worsened by Pesticide Run-Off into Fresh Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2020) Freshwater habitats are threatened now—more than ever—by the adverse effects of pesticide pollution, according to a report published in Scientific Reports by a collaborative research team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Pesticide pollution, attributed to runoff from agricultural farms, indirectly increased the rate of the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which infects over 280 million people (2018). This research underlines the range of uncertainties that exist as a result of pesticide contamination, making it critically important that subtropical areas where this disease threat exists move toward organic and pesticide-free approaches.  Increased prevalence of this disease is devastating to socioeconomic development in affected regions, as life expectancy, employment rate, and gross domestic product (GDP) decreases. Schistosomiasis (snail fever), or bilharzia, is a tropical disease caused by parasitic flatworms (trematodes) in the genus Schistosoma and transmitted via freshwater snail (genus Biomphalaria) to its definitive human host. Freshwater snails act as a vector for schistosomiasis as they play a vital role in the lifecycle of the parasitic flatworm. Professor Matthias Liess (Ph.D.), Head of the Department of System Ecotoxicology at the UFZ, and his research team investigated pesticide pollution’s […]

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06
Nov

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Deprive Fish of Food in Lake Shinji, Japan

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2019) Between 1981 and 1992, Japanese fishers annually reaped an average of 240 tons of smelt from Lake Shinji. After 1993, their nets turned up about 22 tons – a 90% drop in their yield. Eel catches dropped by 74%. New research, published in the journal Science, implicates the introduction of neonicotinoids to the abutting watershed in the decimation of these aquatic populations, stating, “In Lake Shinji, neonicotinoids indirectly reduced fishery yields by decreasing the abundance of invertebrates that serve as food for smelt and eels.” Researchers analyzed decades of data on zooplankton, midges, and water quality as well as annual fishery yields of eel and smelt spanning from 1981-2014. Zooplankton biomass, an important fodder for smelt, plummeted from 108 ”g C L−1 to 18.2 ”g C L−1 after imidacloprid was introduced for use on rice paddies in May of 1993. Midges (Cyathura muromiensis) that were found in abundance in 1982 totally disappeared from all sample sites by 2016. While the smelt and eel populations drastically declined, the authors note that icefish, which eat a more diversified diet, were not impacted. Though researchers considered the possibilities of other influencing factors such as invasive species, hypoxia, and […]

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29
Aug

Ocean Mammals Genetically Vulnerable to Certain Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2018) As pesticides drain from agricultural fields, they can poison waterways and coastal areas and harm wildlife. Now, a study finds that a gene that helps terrestrial mammals break down certain toxic chemicals appears to be faulty in marine mammals — potentially leaving manatees, dolphins and other warm-blooded aquatic life more sensitive to toxic pesticides, especially organophosphates. As marine mammals evolved to make water their primary habitat, they lost the ability to make a protein that has the effect of defending humans and other land-dwelling mammals from the neurotoxic effects of certain pesticides. The gene, PON1, carries instructions for making a protein that interacts with fatty acids ingested with food. But that protein has taken on another role in recent decades: breaking down toxic chemicals found in a popular class of pesticides – organophosphates. An inspection of the genetic instructions of 53 land mammal species in the study, “Ancient convergent losses of Paraoxonase 1 yield potential risks for modern marine mammals,” found the gene intact. But in six marine mammal species, Paraoxonase 1 (PON1) was riddled with mutations that made it useless. The gene became defunct about 64 million to 21 million years ago, possibly due to dietary or behavioral changes related to […]

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20
Aug

Canada Proposes to Phase-out Pesticides Linked to Bee Decline, Aquatic Risks

(Beyond Pesticides, August, 20, 2018) Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has announced a plan to phase out the outdoor use of two neonicotinoid insecticides — thiamethoxam and clothianidin — over three to five years, due to concerns about their effects on aquatic invertebrates. This comes after their 2016 proposal to phase out another neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, for the same concerns, but the proposal has not been finalized. In April, the European Union (EU) voted to ban the most widely used neonicotinoids, citing risks to bees. Earlier this year, PMRA proposed to phase out a number of uses of neonicotinoids in order to mitigate risks to pollinators. And now, after the Canadian agency initiated a special review based on a preliminary analysis of available information on the concentrations and frequency of detection of clothianidin in aquatic environment, the agency has proposed another round of phase-outs. The agency’s review focused on assessing potential risk to aquatic invertebrates exposed to clothianidin applied as a seed, foliar or soil treatment. The assessment finds that, in aquatic environments in Canada, clothianidin and thiamethoxam are both being measured at concentrations that are harmful to aquatic insects. These insects, according to the agency, are an important part of […]

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06
May

Help Finalize Decision to Keep Imidacloprid Out of National Treasure, Willapa Bay; Previous Public Comments Led to Temporary Denied of Use

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2018) The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) temporarily denied a permit to spray Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor with the toxic neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid. Your comments helped achieve the temporary decision and comments are now needed again to make the denial permanent. The public comment period closes on May 14, 2018. Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, with a number of unique ecosystems, and among the most pristine estuaries in the U.S., have been targeted with a plan to spray the toxic neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid to kill the native burrowing shrimp in beds of commercial Japanese oysters. This insecticide use will have deadly effects on keystone aquatic organisms. Based on a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and public input, Ecology temporarily denied the permit. Tell Ecology to restore the bays instead of spraying them! Ecology bases its decision on these factors: Too great an impact on the marine organisms that live in the sediments where the pesticide application is proposed. Too much uncertainty about the long-term impacts associated with this pesticide. Negative impacts on fish and birds caused by killing sources of food and disrupting the food web. Even at low concentrations, imidacloprid has significant impacts […]

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11
Apr

Victory! State Finds Imidacloprid Insecticide Too Risky for Use in Sensitive Willapa Bay

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2018) The request by shellfish growers in Washington State to apply the neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, on oyster and clams beds to control native burrowing shrimp was denied by the Department of Ecology (Ecology) after it determined “environmental harm from this neonicotinoid pesticide would be too great.” Concerned resident and environmental advocates have been opposed to the proposed use citing harms to aquatic life including fish habitat, and long-term ecological damage. Shellfish growers from Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association requested a permit from the state to use the imidacloprid on burrowing shrimp that the growers said impede traditional shellfish cultivation. They sought a state National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to apply imidacloprid to 500 acres of shellfish beds within Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, over a period of five years. The growers first applied for a permit in 2015 to treat 2,000 acres of tidelands, but after a strong public outcry, they withdrew the request. In 2016, they applied for a new permit to treat less acreage and Ecology published a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) in 2017 on the potential impacts imidacloprid application would have to the bay. Now, Ecology, after thoroughly evaluating […]

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15
Mar

Scientists Urge Action to Protect California Waterways from Neonicotinoid Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2018) On Tuesday, a group of 56 scientists studying the effects of neonicotinoids sent a letter to California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) highlighting the threat neonicotinoids pose to the health of California’s waterways. The scientists urge CDPR to take steps to reduce neonicotinoid contamination of the state’s streams and rivers. This comes as neonicotinoids were recently reported to be pervasive throughout the Great Lakes, and federal assessments confirm high risks to aquatic species. According to the letter, neonicotinoids are already found in California waterways at levels that exceed the freshwater invertebrate aquatic life benchmarks and could harm or kill many sensitive aquatic invertebrate species. Citing a 2016 study by the Xerces Society that found imidacloprid frequently in California’s rivers and streams at levels harmful to species such as mayflies and caddisflies. Imidacloprid samples in California from 2010-2015 showed that 42% (197 of 468) of detections exceeded the acute invertebrate benchmark and all of the detections exceeded the chronic invertebrate benchmark. In certain regions of the state, particularly agricultural areas, the imidacloprid benchmark for acute effects was more frequently exceeded. The scientists note these chemicals can “have consequences for broader ecosystems. Declines in aquatic invertebrates put other species […]

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17
Jan

Controversial Pesticides Jeopardize Endangered Species Like Salmon

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2018) The organophosphate insecticides chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered species and adversely modify their critical habitats, according to the newly released report from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The insecticide cholorpyrifos, whose ban was rescinded by the Trump Administration last year, despite overwhelming evidence of neurological and brain damage to children, is once again being shown to be too toxic for continued use. Under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), any agency action requires a finding that it “is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat.” The December 31, 2017 Biological Opinion from NMFS followed an ecological assessment that relied upon multiple lines of evidence to determine effects to species and their designated habitats. These include “the direct and indirect toxicity of each chemical to aquatic taxa groups (e.g. fish, mammals, invertebrates); specific chemical characteristics of each pesticide (e.g. degradation rates, bioaccumulation rates, sorption affinities, etc.); expected environmental concentrations calculated for generic aquatic habitats; authorized pesticide product labels; maps showing the spatial overlap of listed species’ habitats with pesticide use areas; […]

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16
Jan

Take Action: Tell EPA that Neonics Pose Unacceptable Ecological Threats!

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2018) In spite of findings that neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides pose both acute and chronic risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comment that could support their continued use. Comments are due by February 20, 2018.  Tell EPA that neonics pose unacceptable risks to pollinators, aquatic life, and birds! And, ask your Congressional delegation push EPA to do the right thing. Last month, EPA released preliminary ecological (non-pollinator) assessments for the neonicotinoids clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and the terrestrial ecological assessment for imidacloprid, finding that these pesticides pose both acute and chronic risks to aquatic life and birds. Treated seeds are identified as posing the highest dietary risks to birds, confirming previous research that neonics are highly hazardous not only to bees, but also, to birds, aquatic life, and other non-target organisms. However, EPA’s assessments also cover spray treatments. EPA opened the public comment period for these assessments on December 15, 2017. Along with outlining the risks identified in the assessments, the agency is especially requesting feedback on the benefits of continued use of the neonics on cotton and citrus crops, identified in last year’s pollinator assessments as posing risks to honey bees. […]

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04
Jan

EPA’s Assessments of Seeds Coated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides Confirm Dangers to Birds and Aquatic Organisms

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2018) Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the preliminary ecological (non-pollinator) assessments for the neonicotinoids (neonics); clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and the terrestrial ecological assessment for imidacloprid, finding that these pesticides pose both acute and chronic risks to aquatic life and birds. Treated seeds are identified as posing the highest dietary risks to birds, confirming previous research that neonics are highly hazardous not only to bees, but to birds, aquatic life, and other non-target organisms. Released December 15, 2017, EPA opened the public comment period for these assessments until February 20, 2018. Along with the risks identified in the assessments, the agency is specially requesting feedback on the benefits of continued use of the neonics in cotton and citrus crops identified in last year’s pollinator assessments as posing risks to honey bees. EPA states, “We believe early input from the public will be helpful in developing possible mitigation options that may be needed to address risks to bees.” This despite evidence of long-term systemic exposures to non-target organisms that support a phase-out of these pesticides. EPA believes that neonicotinoids are crucial for the management of Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive pest that causes citrus greening, […]

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