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California Briefing / SACRAMENTO

3 pesticides found to harm salmon

August 14, 2008|Eric Bailey

Three common pesticides are helping push the Pacific Coast's prized but imperiled salmon closer to extinction, a new federal report has found.

A 377-page draft study by federal fisheries experts contends there is "overwhelming evidence" that unfettered use of the pesticides is "likely to jeopardize the continued existence" of 28 salmon stocks off the West Coast.

The National Marine Fisheries report says the pesticides interfere with basic functions of the fish: their ability to find food, reproduce, even to swim. The three pesticides -- malathion, diazinon and chloripyrifos -- have been used for decades by farmers and home gardeners.

Joshua Osborne-Klein, an attorney with the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, said the report pointed to a need to find alternatives to the chemicals.

The fisheries service is expected in coming months to make recommendations on potential remedies to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which governs pesticide use. Agency officials could order restrictions or prohibit use of the pesticides.

-- Eric Bailey

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