andrew schneider investigates

February 19, 2008

Pesticide brew spells trouble for salmon

Filed under: Pesticides,Salmon,Seafood — Andrew Schneider @ 08:57


Fisherman’s Terminal By Andrew Schneider/PI

The Environmental Protection Agency may be underestimating the hazard pesticides pose to salmon, especially in the Pacific Northwest, says Science Now.

Reporter Erik Stokstad writes that one of salmon’s main enemies is agricultural chemicals, such as chlorpyrifos, made by Dow Chemical. Studies by zoologist Nathaniel Scholz of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle show the pesticides interfere with the salmon’s brain and harms their ability to feed. Now Scholz’s research is showing that mixtures of pesticides are even worse for salmon and can be surprisingly lethal.

Chlorpyrifos and other so-called organophosphate pesticides kill cells by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that helps neurons communicate. These pesticides are sprayed on crops and are widespread in streams in the Northwest; half of the waters sampled by the U.S. Geological Survey contain six or more pesticides.

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