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J Environ Sci Health B. 2013;48(5):344-63. doi: 10.1080/03601234.2013.742373.

Ecological risk of pesticide residues in the British Columbia environment: 1973-2012.

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MTW Consulting, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


An updated ecological risk assessment was conducted to re-evaluate and review the overall risk of pesticide residues to certain aquatic life. The focus was the impact on offsite non-target, freshwater organisms of pesticide operational sprays in British Columbia from 1973 until 2012. The values of risk quotients for pesticides of selected indicator organisms were determined to measure the effect. When compared with organophosphorus, carbamate, and other miscellaneous pesticides, this risk assessment analysis suggests that the historical use of persistent and highly toxic organochlorine pesticides posed, and continue to pose, a deleterious ecological risk. The risk is both short-term acute and long-term sub-acute, chronic toxicity to offsite, non-target aquatic invertebrates and juvenile salmonid fish. Data indicated that these organisms were, and remain, subjected to harmful effects of pesticide residues to varying degrees. Most vulnerable were, and also are, benthic organisms inhabiting bottom sediments. This substrate is the natural sink for persistent pesticide residues, predominantly organochlorine pesticides from historical use, as well as dioxins, furans, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from wood preservatives, and other sources. Environment Canada's main aquatic protection strategy was a 10 metre no-treatment buffer zone, augmented with an additional appropriate setback along shorelines of fishery and wildlife resource-sensitive water bodies. This study discusses why this guideline was necessary, useful and effective, but was only partially successful. The physical-chemical properties of pesticide residues, from either an individual compound or different compounds in combination, also influence the nature of biological impacts on non-target, aquatic organisms. Few studies have been conducted in British Columbia aquatic environments to investigate the significance of this aspect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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