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Pesticides

Pesticides are killing birds, bees, and bats by the millions

Monday, January 18, 2010 by: Ethan Huff
Tags: pesticides, bees, health news

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(NewsTarget) Estimates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicate that millions of birds and fish die every year from pesticide exposure. Scientists are now discovering that even low level exposure is disrupting the animal kingdom and causing new diseases to develop, threatening many species with extinction.

Roughly 90 percent of the nation's rivers and streams are contaminated with pesticides, affecting more than 80 percent of fish. More than 30 percent of the nation's aquifers are contaminated as well, affecting the drinking water of millions of people.

In recent years, scientists have been observing the decimation of many species of bees, amphibians, and bats due to pesticides. In just a few years, over one million bats in the northeastern United States have died from diseases caused by pesticide exposure. More than 1,800 species of sea creatures face extinction from exposure and many researchers suspect that colony collapse disorder (CCD) among bees is being caused by pesticides as well.

Some of the smallest sea creatures being affected are spreading disease all the way up the food chain. Seals that eat contaminated herring are dying by the thousands, illustrating how even limited exposure can have widespread consequences.

Carlos Davidson, a conservation biologist from San Francisco State University, believes that pesticides directly inhibit immune function in animals exposed to them, causing them to act as hosts for diseases. Novel diseases that have left scientists at a loss for an explanation are likely developing in part from the overuse of antibiotics in the general population. Together, a deadly combination is formed that threatens both animal and human life.

Back in the 1970s, scientists discovered that insecticides were being carried by the wind from crops in the San Joaquin Valley of California up to the Sierra Nevada Mountains where they contaminated air, water, and snow in this otherwise pristine area. Eventually, researchers found that amphibians living in lakes and streams were wrought with the same pesticides. Because the amphibian population declined heavily between the 1970s and the 1990s, the same time that those pesticides were used in the valley, Davidson believes that pesticides were the culprit in those deaths.

Many see the obvious connection between pesticide exposure and vulnerability to disease; however, proving it without a doubt is a difficult task. Many concerned scientists recognize the problem but do not know what to do about it. Unless something is done to greatly reduce pesticide use, the entire existence of the animal kingdom is at stake.

Sources:

Behind Mass Die-Offs, Pesticides Lurk as Culprit - environment360, Yale University

Pesticide issues in the works: honey bee colony collapse disorder - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Pesticides: Endangered Species Protection Program - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

About the author

Ethan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.

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