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Sediments in many Central Valley streams contain toxic levels of pyrethroid pesticides

elds. According to Weston, pyrethroid use in California increased 58 percent from 2001 to 2002, if account is taken of the increased potency of newer pyrethroids such as cypermethrin. Over a quarter of a million pounds of pyrethroids were spread on California farm fields in 2002, while about 500,000 pounds were used for structural and pest control and landscape maintenance.

Despite this increased use, environmental monitoring still concentrates on organophosphates, he said. Monitoring also tends to focus on concentrations in the water column, under the assumption that sediment-bound chemicals like pyrethroids are unavailable. The current study shows that to be untrue.

"It's amazing that, after 20 years of use, there is not one published study on pyrethroids in sediments in areas of intensive agriculture," Weston said.

Part of the reason for a lack of data is that analytical methods to detect pyrethroids in sediment have not been broadly available or standardized. Lydy, an environmental toxicologist with SIU-Carbondale's Illinois Fisheries and Aquaculture Center, developed such a method.

"Prior to our study, scientists in area water-monitoring programs were seeing that if they placed aquatic invertebrates in their sediment samples, the animals would die, but they didn't know why - they'd attribute it to organophosphates or organochlorines (two pesticide ingredients being phased out because of environmental concerns), or they'd put it down to 'unknown causes,'" Lydy said.

"Where our study is unique is that we looked at the toxicity and tried to figure out what was actually causing it. We detected organochlorines, such as DDT and chlordane, in the sediments, but at concentrations not high enough to cause the toxicity we noted, whereas concentrations of pyrethroids were high enough to account for that toxicity."

The samples, over 70 in all, were obtained from two major rivers - the San Joaquin and the Feather - and 19 cree
'"/>

Contact: Robert Sanders
rls@pa.urel.berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
6-May-2004


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