NOAA research highlights that pesticides and salmon don't mix

Wild chinook spawning in a N. Oregon coast river. Photo by Beth Lambert, OSU.

Wild chinook spawning in a N. Oregon coast river. Photo by Beth Lambert, OSU.

Water quality and salmon watchers have been following this research for a while but now it’s hot off the presses.  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Northwest Fisheries Science Center scientist David Baldwin just published his findings in the Ecological Society of America’s December issue of Ecological Applications.  The upshot: exposure to low levels of common pesticides used by farmers and city dwellers alike may hinder the growth and survival of wild salmon. Furthermore, toxicity increases when the chemicals are mixed together in the water.

Using existing data and a model for growth and reproduction, Baldwin and his colleagues found that  with only 4 days of exposure to pesticides such as diazinon and malathion can change the freshwater growth and, by extension, the subsequent survival of subyearling fish.

Improving water quality could improve recovery of salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act, the researchers said. What are the keys to success in this case?  Lowering pesticide use by implementing integrated pest management strategies (IPM), minimizing over application, and applying pesticides correctly to minimize drift into local waterways.

Check out these OSU Extension resources for:

Also, check out Jeff Jenkins’ narrated slide presentation on pesticides in water here.