USGS study finds waterways have high levels of neonicotinoid in Iowa, Midwest


Nick Fetty | July 24, 2014
The Raccoon River near Water Works Park in Des Moines. Photo by Carl Wycoff; Flickr
The Raccoon River near Water Works Park in Des Moines.
Photo by Carl Wycoff; Flickr

A new study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) finds that waterways in Iowa and other parts of the Midwest are experiencing particularly high levels of an insecticide known as neonicotinoid.

Farmers and gardeners use neonicotinoids – or neonics – because their effectiveness against a whole range of pests. However, the insecticide has been linked to decreased bee populations as well as a fall in the number of certain prairie bird species.

Neonics – which are chemically similar to nicotine – disolve in water quickly which means they’re susceptible to running off fields and polluting rivers, streams, and other waterways. A 2013 Dutch report found that imidacloprid – one of the chemicals in neonicotinoid – had harmful effects on “a wide range of non-target species.” Similarly, a 2014 Canadian study found neonics to be detrimental on wetland ecosystems.

The use of clothianidin – another chemical found in neonicotinoid – on corn in Iowa nearly doubled from 2011 to 2013. In 2013 the Iowa DNR released a 114-page report examining polluted waterways throughout the state.

4 thoughts on “USGS study finds waterways have high levels of neonicotinoid in Iowa, Midwest

  1. A very sensitive subject in Iowa. Just like those wind turbines, you don’t hear any negative comments about them. One lady interviewed said she didn’t like the noise. Other sites have reports of eagle kills, but does anyone do a study? I live on the Des Moines River and we use well water can we test for Neonicotinoid? Will a regular water testing show signs of Neonicotinoid? What’s the solution?

  2. All farmers in Iowa should be following the 16 Drainage Laws and the Clean Water Acts anti-degradation laws and we would have a better chance at improving and not just worsening Iowa’s Water Qaulity. Point Source Polluters can undo all the conservation work of a bunch more Sustainable farmers who use legal drainage outlets for their farms.

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