John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Stormwater input of pyrethroid insecticides to an urban river

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Courtesy of John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

The American River flows for nearly 50 km through highly urbanized lands surrounding Sacramento, California, USA. Twenty‐three streams, drainage canals, or pumping stations discharge urban runoff to the river, with the cumulative effect of nearly doubling the river's flow during rain events. During winter storms, the water column in the most downstream 13‐km reach of the river exhibited toxicity to the standard testing species, Hyalella azteca, in 52% of samples, likely because of the pyrethroid insecticide bifenthrin. The compound is heavily used by professional pest controllers, either as a liquid perimeter treatment around homes or as granules broadcast over landscaped areas. It was found in 11 of 12 runoff sources examined, at concentrations averaging five times the H. azteca 96‐h EC50. Quantified inputs of bifenthrin should have been sufficient to attain peak concentrations in the river twice those actually observed, suggesting loss by sedimentation of particulates and pesticide adsorption to the substrate and/or vegetation. Nevertheless, observed bifenthrin concentrations in the river were sufficient to cause water column toxicity, demonstrated during six storms studied over three successive winters. Toxicity and bifenthrin concentrations were greatest when river flow was low (<23 m3/s) but persisted even at atypically high flows (585 m3/s). Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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