Having clean water is essential for our environment, wildlife, and human health. However, water pollution is at a high with chemicals, pesticides, metals and other contaminants in our water supplies.
According to Beyond Pesticides, the EPA estimates that over 50 pesticides are known surface or groundwater contaminants.
This month the EPA finalized a settlement to restore no-spray buffer zones, an area where the direct application of pesticides is prohibited, to protect endangered salmon and steelhead fish from five toxic pesticides.
This settlement follows litigation filed by Earthjustice, representing the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, and Defenders of Wildlife, in 2010.
How Will The Buffers Help Against Water Pollution?
Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, a West Coast commercial fishing industry trade associations and co-plaintiff said, “This agreement helps the coastal and inland communities that depend on salmon for their livelihoods and provides more certainty for landowners on safer use of these chemicals.”
The buffers have been applied to salmon habitats throughout California, Oregon, and Washington to prohibit aerial spraying of pesticides like diazinon, chlorpyrifos, malathion, carbaryl and methomyl within 300 feet of salmon habitats and prohibit ground based application within 60 feet.
The buffers will remain in place until National Marine Fisheries complete analyses of the impact that the five pesticides have on the fish.
Pesticides and Their Effect on Wildlife, Human Health and the Environment
Poisoning salmon rivers poses a public health hazard. Not only are the chemicals dangerous to salmon, but also to human health, other wildlife and the environment.
List of Pesticides and Their Effects
Diazinon, a heavily used insecticide during the 1970’s and early 1980’s, can affect the nervous system through obstruction of the AchE, an enzyme needed for proper nervous system function.
Chlorpyrifos, is toxic to bees, birds, aquatic life, certain species of algae, and mammals. It has been shown to bioaccumulate (what does this mean?) in fish.
Malathion, considered a class III pesticide by the EPA, is slightly toxic. Despite its classification, numerous human poisonings have been reported. Malathion is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, skin mucous membranes and lungs.
Carbaryl, causes irreversible neurological damage and behavioral disturbances in animals.
Methomyl, considered a class I pesticide by the EPA, which mean it is highly toxic. It is highly toxic to birds and moderately to highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Repeated exposure to this pesticide can cause flu-like symptoms.
The use of pesticides for crops already raises concern for humans and animals that consume such treated food. However, it has a systemic effect on surrounding ecosystems and coastal environments as well.