Insecticide contamination of surface waters regularly occurs across the U.S. in concentrations that have severe detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems. This was found by a recent study by the Institute for Environmental Sciences Landau, Germany. According to their findings, insecticide contamination occurs widespread throughout the United States and risks are expected to increase in the future. This studies shows that insecticides thus threaten one of the most important natural resources and highlights the urgent need to re-evaluate current regulatory practices in the U.S.
Insecticides are applied in large volumes across the United States to protect agricultural crops from insect pests. As has been shown before through studies e.g. by the USGS or the U.S. EPA, these substances can be transported from agricultural fields into adjacent water bodies via various pathways where they have profound adverse effects on both water quality and biodiversity.
Therefore, insecticides have to pass an elaborated environmental risk assessment procedure before being sold and applied to crops. During this process, regulatory threshold concentrations are derived, which should not be surpassed, in order to prevent adverse effects in non-target environments such as surface waters.
These thresholds were compared to actual field concentrations of 32 commonly applied insecticides, obtained from 259 peer-reviewed publications reporting insecticide concentrations in more than 600 water bodies in the U.S.
In this extensive meta-analysis, about half of the total of 5817 measured insecticide concentrations exceeded these critical thresholds; more so, about one fourth of all concentrations surpassed these thresholds by a factor of ten or more.
Thus insecticides occur frequently at adverse concentrations and exceed levels that were expected during the pesticides’ approval process. In addition, risks were even more pronounced for smaller water bodies, which is especially concerning considering that they denote critical habitats for endangered species and serve as important spawning grounds for fish.
In particular newer insecticides, such as pyrethroids and neonicotinoids, were of particular concern, replacing older substances but thereby failing to provide a more environmentally safe alternative.
“One of our biggest concerns is that environmental risks did not decrease over time.”, added Jakob Wolfram. As a result, insecticides’ current use practices may not be in accordance with environmental protection goals, requiring a critical reassessment of their environmental risks.
In the future, insecticide application may even increase due to changing weather conditions and intensifying pressure from invasive pest species. Addressing this central challenge to surface water integrity appears thus more pressing than ever, if sustainable and safe use of water resources should be achieved in the United States.
University of Koblenz-Landau
Department of Environmental Sciences
Prof. Dr. Ralf Schulz
Phone: +49 6341 280-31327
“Meta-Analysis of Insecticides in United States Surface Waters: Status and Future Implications” by Jakob Wolfram, Sebastian Stehle, Sascha Bub, Lara L. Petschick, Ralf Schulz. The study was published on November 26, 2018 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Giovanna Marasco-Albry | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Saving energy by taking a close look inside transistors
10.01.2019 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Tandem Solar Cells – Record Efficiency for Silicon-based Multi-junction Solar Cell
08.01.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.
Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...
Research opens doors in photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing and microwave photonics
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new integrated photonics platform that can...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
17.01.2019 | Life Sciences
17.01.2019 | Life Sciences
17.01.2019 | Life Sciences