Thursday, July 26, 2018
Washington State Department of Ecology is Right
Dear Editor Chinook Observer,
(Published Wednesday July 4, 2018, print edition.)
Senator Takko is wrong, the Department of Ecology is right!
The Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association has been denied a permit to spray the neonicotinoid --imidacloprid in our bay, based on current science.
We can begin to understand neonicotinoid toxicity generally, and imidacloprid toxicity specifically, simply by reading the label: “Environmental Hazards, Do not apply directly to water, areas where surface water is present or to intertidal areas below the mean high water mark.” “This product is toxic to wildlife and highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates.” (Invertebrates are animals without backbones, like crabs and shrimp and shellfish.) The following statement is also given on the label: “PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS, HAZARDS TO HUMANS AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS CAUTION.” Page 5 (2014): <https://bit.ly/2tra369>
Speaking of hazards to humans: “Four general population studies reported associations between chronic neonic exposure and adverse developmental or neurological out comes, including tetralogy of Fallot” (a congenital heart defect), “anencephaly” (children born with part or all of the brain missing), “autism spectrum disorder, and a symptom cluster including memory loss and finger tremor.” (2016) <https://bit.ly/2llmEnI>
The environmental hazards include: " . . . that they are persistent . . . and are highly toxic to a wide range of invertebrates." (2014): <https://bit.ly/2tgbzsu>
A more recent environmental study shows: “. . . . the initial toxicity assessment of this insecticide was flawed.” “. . . most of the organisms do not die immediately but start dying in large numbers after a week, and their populations disappear completely after a few weeks . . .” “Neonicotinoids bind irreversibly to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) embedded in the synaptic membranes of neurons” (nerve and brain cells), “and their activation elicits a continuous electric impulse that eventually leads to the death of the neuron. The neuronal death toll accumulates as more and more chemical molecules bind to other nAChRs until the organism cannot cope with the damage and dies . . .” “. . . effects are cumulative with time, because neurons do not regenerate. It has been termed time-cumulative toxicity . . .” “ . . . exposure to neonicotinoids causes a number of sublethal effects on aquatic organisms, such as feeding inhibition, impaired movement , reduced fecundity , reduced body size in . . . fish and immune-suppression in fish . . . “ “ . . . vertebrates that depend on insects and other aquatic invertebrates as their sole or main food resource are being affected.” Vertebrates have backbones--like us and fish and birds. Fish are important to our commercial and recreational fisheries, and birds are very important to our tourism industry and to our ecosystem as well. (2016): <https://bit.ly/2LifRHf>
Science is an ongoing process. What we know continues to grow. What we knew in 2015, based on the above referenced documents from 2014, should have been enough to ban imidicloprid use in our bay. We know even more today. Any increased risk, no matter how small, of infants being born without parts of their brain is unacceptable. And this is not the only risk to us or to our environment from this poison. We should never forget that oysters are filter feeders. When we eat oysters from our bay, we are eating everything dumped, spread, or sprayed in our bay. We should be grateful that the Washington State Department of Ecology has put science over politics in an effort to protect us, and to protect the essential ecosystem of our bay that produces abundant and diverse foods which we enjoy and which our economy depends on.