US review shows pesticides harm threatened salmon, whales

2018-01-14 09:30
(iStock)

(iStock)

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

Washington - Federal scientists have determined that a family of widely used pesticides poses a threat to dozens of endangered and threatened species, including Pacific salmon, Atlantic sturgeon and Puget Sound orcas.

The National Marine Fisheries Service issued its new biological opinion on three organophosphate pesticides - chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion - after a protracted court fight by environmental groups. At the urging of pesticide manufacturers, the Trump administration had sought a two-year delay of a court-ordered deadline to issue the findings by the end of 2017, but it was unsuccessful.

Hinder development

The exhaustive 3 700-page federal review concludes that chlorpyrifos and malathion jeopardise 38 out of the 77 species under the jurisdiction of the fisheries service and that diazinon was found to jeopardise 25 of the listed species.

The report makes detailed recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency for new restrictions on how and where the pesticides can be sprayed to help limit the harm.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in March reversed an Obama-era effort to bar the use of chlorpyrifos on fruits and vegetables after peer-reviewed academic studies found that even tiny levels of exposure could hinder the development of children's brains.

Organophosphorus gas was originally developed as a chemical weapon before World War II. Dow Chemical, based in Midland, Michigan, has been selling chlorpyrifos for spraying on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops since the 1960s. It is among the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States, with Dow selling about 2.3 million kilogrammes domestically each year.

CropLife America, an industry trade group that lobbies Congress and federal agencies on pesticide regulations, said it was still reviewing the final National Marine Fisheries Service opinion.

Harmful levels

A coalition of environmentalists and commercial fishermen has fought in court for more than a decade to spur the federal government to more closely examine the risk posed to humans and endangered species by organophosphates.

Studies have shown for years that even low levels of pesticides running off into streams and rivers can impair the growth, swimming ability and reproductive systems of salmon. Potentially harmful levels of the toxins then build up in the bodies of orcas, also known as killer whales, that eat salmon.

"Salmon have been waiting four decades for relief from toxic pesticides in many of our rivers," said Glen Spain, the northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "The agencies should do their job".


Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com 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.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

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 24.com network.

Settings

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.