More than half of the streams in America are contaminated with insecticides that have been linked to bee colony collapse, according to a new study.
Researchers from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) found neonicotinoids, which some scientists blame for a major die-off of bees, in slightly more than half of the waterways in urban and agricultural areas.
“In the study, neonicotinoids occurred throughout the year in urban streams while pulses of neonicotinoids were typical in agricultural streams during crop planting season,” USGS Chemist Michelle Hladik told the press.
It is the first study of its kind, and was conducted from 2011 to 2014. Among the various forms of neonicotinoids, imidicloprid was found in 37 percent of the streams, clothianidin in 24 percent, thiamethoxam in 21 percent, dinotefuran in 13 percent and acetamiprid in 3 percent.
The results of the USGS study were published in the scientific journal Environmental Chemistry at the same time another study appeared in England showing neonicotinoids could cause bee colonies to die.
Scientists found a link between the use of a neonicotinoid called imidacloprid and bee colony collapse in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported. Scientists at the Food and Environment Research Agency discovered that the level of bee colony collapse increased as the use of imidacloprid rose.
Bee colony collapse increased as farmers planted large amounts of rapeseed – the plant Canola oil is made from – that was treated with imidacloprid, the scientific study published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports indicated.
Some scientists, including Chensheng Lu of the Harvard School of Public Health, believe neonicotinoids cause bee colony collapse disorder. More than 70 percent of the beehives in some parts of the United States died because of the disorder last winter.
The insecticide has been banned in the European Union but they are still widely used in the United States. It is usually coated on seeds, but it rubs off into the dirt and is stirred up during planting or harvesting. That creates toxic dust, which kills the bees.
Around 70 of the 100 most popular food crops rely on pollination from bees.
Scientists are also concerned that neonicotinoids could affect fish, animals and even people who drink contaminated water.
“The occurrence of low levels in streams throughout the year supports the need for future research on the potential impacts of neonicotinoids on aquatic life and terrestrial animals that rely on aquatic life,” USGS scientist Kathryn Kuvila said.
It looks as if bees could be only one of many forms of life potentially threatened by neonicotinoids.
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