A new study of local waterways has made some troubling discoveries about a widely used group of pesticides and the role of homeowners and businesses in putting them there.
The findings should prompt many people in this region to reflect on their household practices. It also should lead to further scientific investigation of the role these pesticides are playing in the multifaceted crisis of the Delta.
The study, led by a UC Berkeley toxicologist and reported in Sacramento Bee, focused on pyrethroids. These are man-made pesticides commonly used in household insecticides, lawn care products and pet sprays. Before the study, what happened to these substances after they killed unwanted pests was something of a mystery. Now it's a worry.
That's because the study discovered three things that hadn't previously been known about pyrethroids' penetration of local water systems.
It found that these pesticides, in the American River, were present in sufficient quantities to poison the tiny shrimp that are among the early links of the aquatic food chain. That may come as a surprise to many people who view the American River as more pristine than it apparently is.
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