A draft evaluation from NOAA Fisheries Service has determined that three common pesticides may be harming West Coast salmon, according to the Associated Press. The agency is evaluating a total of 37 pesticides. Eleven more pesticides have yet to be analyzed.
The evaluation was kicked off after conservation groups and salmon fishermen demanded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enforce restrictions on pesticides around salmon streams. The groups filed a lawsuit.
The recent evaluation studied pre-emerge herbicides oryzalin, pendimenthalin and trifluralin, which are commonly used to control weeds in lawns, on road shoulders, in orchards, vineyards and farm fields growing soybeans, cotton, corn, Christmas trees and other crops. Heaviest use is in California. The herbicides are ingredients in more than 100 commercial products made by dozens of manufacturers.
The Associated Press reports that trifluralin is the most toxic of the three while oryzalin is considered the least toxic. According to the evaluation, trifluralin deforms fish backbones even at low concentrations, oryzalin is harmful to aquatic plants and pendimenthalin is toxic to aquatic plants and insects that salmon eat.
The public has until April 30 to comment on the draft evaluation.