FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lawn Insecticide Fouls Local Streams
Federal Government Fails to Protect People and Salmon from Toxic Pesticide
A new analysis of urban pesticide sales and stream contamination in the Northwest revealed a shocking increase in sales of the toxic insecticide carbaryl.
A new analysis of urban pesticide sales and stream contamination in the Northwest revealed a shocking increase in sales of the toxic insecticide carbaryl. During the phaseout of the lawn insecticides diazinon and Dursban,TM carbaryl sales increased by more than tenfold. Levels of carbaryl in salmon streams also showed a significant increase. These results were presented in a report, Toxic Tradeoff, released today by the Clean Water for Salmon Campaign.
Like diazinon and Dursban,TM carbaryl is toxic to the nervous system. It is also considered a likely carcinogen. When it pollutes streams, it can harm salmon directly and, since it is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates, can severely impact salmon food supply.
"Banning urban uses of DursbanTM and diazinon was a good thing for people and fish, but we're chasing our tails when people just move to another toxic pesticide," said Philip Dickey, staff scientist with the Washington Toxics Coalition. "Our analysis shows that when more chemicals are used, more wash off into our salmon streams. Carbaryl is an increasing threat in urban streams in the Northwest."
Carbaryl is currently under scrutiny by federal regulators and wildlife agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now considering whether to keep carbaryl on the market, or restrict its uses. The agency is responding to a petition by farm worker, beekeeper, and environmental organizations to ban all uses of carbaryl. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service commented earlier this year that the limited restrictions EPA has already proposed will not be enough to protect fish and wildlife.
The EPA is also revisiting its determination that carbaryl is not likely to harm threatened salmon in the Puget Sound area. The agency made the determination, which would mean there will be no new protections for salmon from carbaryl in Puget Sound streams, in response to a lawsuit by Washington Toxics Coalition, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, and Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. EPA is revisiting this and other determinations as part of a pledge to improve its scientific methods.
"For too long we've seen EPA use outdated and sloppy science in making decisions that are crucial to the health of salmon and other fish and wildlife," said Erika Schreder, staff scientist with the Washington Toxics Coalition. "EPA needs to consider the real impacts of letting salmon swim in waters filled with poisons that can harm their ability to swim and reproduce. We need to take action to get carbaryl and other pesticides out of salmon streams."
The Clean Water for Salmon Campaign is calling on the EPA to thoroughly evaluate the ecological effects of carbaryl products and other pesticides; consult with NOAA Fisheries on all potentially harmful uses of carbaryl; eliminate uses of carbaryl that threaten salmon and human health; and support development of alternatives to carbaryl and other pesticides.
Insecticides are used on Northwest lawns primarily as a control for cranefly, whose grubs can damage grass roots. Northwest residents can grow a healthy lawn without pesticides by mowing regularly with a mulching mower, fertilizing with an organic or slow release fertilizer, and aerating and overseeding the lawn.
"There is no need to use pesticides such as carbaryl to have a healthy lawn," said Dave Galvin, hazardous waste program manager for King County. "We are concerned about seeing pesticides like carbaryl in local streams. Safer, effective, natural practices pay off with a yard that is healthier for people as well as fish."
The Clean Water for Salmon Campaign is a partnership of the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides.
You can download the entire Toxic Tradeoff report here (892kb PDF file).
Washington Toxics Coalition
206-632-1545 ext. 119