Pesticides slash water life by 42% – study

2013-06-18 12:32

(Peter Kohalmi, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington – Pesticides may kill off water insects and other small aquatic life by as much as 42%, according to an analysis of German, French and Australian rivers and streams published on Monday.

The study in US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to compare regional biodiversity in polluted versus less polluted water, said scientists at the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

Freshwater invertebrates and aquatic insects were 42% less common in strongly contaminated areas in Europe compared to less polluted areas; and in Australia, a difference of 27% was found across regions.

The analysis included measurements of insecticides and fungicides, which are used often in agriculture and are typically well studied and heavily regulated.

However, the researchers said little examination has been done to gauge their effect on the streams and rivers they end up in after it rains and the chemicals are washed off farmland and into watercourses.

"The current practice of risk assessment is like driving blind on the motorway," said ecotoxicologist Matthias Liess, a study co-author.

Species that were particularly vulnerable to pesticides included dragonflies, stoneflies, mayflies and caddis flies.

The researchers warned that the threat pesticides pose to biodiversity has been underestimated, since experimental lab work and studies on artificial ecosystems often precede a pesticide's market approval.

"The effects in Europe were detected at concentrations that current legislation considers environmentally protective," said the study, calling for new approaches to better assess the ecological risks of pesticides.

A better practice would be to assess the ecological impact of chemicals by investigating real environments on a larger scale, the authors said.

The findings show that UN goals to slow down the decline in biodiversity by 2020 are "jeopardised," it said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    us  |  insects
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Boks won't be tired, assures Louw
Mumm wary of depleted Welsh
Lack of experience costs England dear
Jean rejoins Springbok camp
Traffic Alerts

Relationships and significant connections may play an important role in your day today. Let the warmth of the Leo moon inspire more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.