In 2001, the United States’ federal government was sued by salmon fishermen and anti-pesticide groups due to the impact of pesticides on salmon. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has subsequently recently decided to set new limits to three different pesticides being used in the western United States.
The EPA has restricted the use of chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon near waters which are home to salmon. The pesticides will be restricted depending upon the particular river or stream in question and the application rate of the pesticides. The new limits will restrict use between 100 and 1,000 feet of these particular waterways.
These new limits apply to popular salmon areas in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The United States’ Geological Survey had found salmon in these areas were being impacted by the aforementioned chemicals. The pesticides alter salmon’s sense of smell which leads to a plethora of other issues. Salmon which have difficultly with their sense of smell have problems finding food, finding their locations for spawning and avoiding predators.
The pesticides are commonly used on a range of foods including fruits and vegetables, cotton and even livestock. The chemicals are largely for the control of flies, termites, mosquitoes and various other pests. These chemicals are not permitted for use in individual households, only on farms.
Steve Owens, who works with the EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances division, stated: “These limitations will protect Pacific salmon and steelhead while providing for appropriate pesticide use.”
On the other hand, attorney for Earthjustice which handled the case, Joshua Osborne-Klein, stated: “We’re concerned that the EPA’s alternative won’t be enough to keep these poisons out of salmon waters.”
Due to the EPA ruling, the companies making the pesticides will be required to create new labels for their product and adhere to the EPA ruling.