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Ecology and salmon related articles

Network Says Diazinon Poses Threat to Salmon

by Trevor Maxwell
The Oregonian, June 15, 2000

A report says the popular home and garden insecticide
disrupts food supplies and reproduction

The Oregon Pesticide Education Network says the popular home and garden insecticide diazinon, even if used in accordance with directions, disrupts salmon food supplies and reproduction.

Network supporters issued the 20-page report Wednesday in Portland.

"If we're going to be serious about salmon recovery, we're going to have to address all factors," said Jim Myron, conservation director for Oregon Trout. "The impact of pesticide use is one that has been overlooked."

The report surveys previous studies and criticizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for ignoring the issue. Titled "Lethal Lawns: Diazinon Use Threatens Salmon Survival," it contends that diazinon, applied at even low levels, is carried to fish-bearing streams as storm-water runoff.

Once in a stream or river, diazinon, from a broad class of organophosphates, acts upon the salmon's nervous system to disrupt behavior, sperm count and genes, the report asserts. And it is lethal to insects that are part of the salmon's diet, the report says.

In the wake of the U.S. government's phase-out last week of chlorpyrifos, a closely related pesticide sold under the trade names Dursban and Lorsban, coalition members and others said more attention needs to be paid to the broad impact of over-the-counter pesticides.

"To substitute diazinon for Dursban, because of the government's action, would be foolhardy," said Maureen Kirk, executive director of the Oregon State Public Research Interest Group, one of the study's three sponsoring groups. The other two are the Oregon Environmental Council and the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides.

The groups were immediately rebuffed by industry backers.

"They do a selective job at looking at scientific data," said Terry Witt, executive director of Oregonians for Food and Shelter. "These products are very well tested, and they are regulated by the federal government and the state government. When a product is used according to its labeled directions it is safe."

Witt agreed that the Dursban phase-out could increase use of diazinon, which is the other most popular insecticide ingredient. But he said responsible producers and consumers can eliminate most of the risk.

"One thing we have to do better on is educating the homeowner on how to use these materials," Witt said.

To see the report on the Web,

Trevor Maxwell of the Oregonian Staff
Network Says Diazinon Poses Threat to Salmon
The Oregonian, June 15, 2000

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