According to 20 years of accumulated data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey, our water sources are increasingly riddled with pesticides – pesticides that are detrimental to aquatic life.

On a positive note, the study shows an opposite trend on pesticides that present harm to human health. Study findings report that human-endangering pesticides dropped off in 2002-2011 vs. 1992-2001. This drop-off is largely attributed to glyphosate, introduced to the market in the 1970’s with the trade name “Roundup.” Glyphosate has replaced the use of many other herbicides because it decomposes shortly after use. It’s readily degradable in soil. This fact, combined with its low-toxicity to animals and broad-spectrum properties, renders it the cat’s meow of herbicides; but for one thing: it is a water contaminate. If glyphosate reaches surface water, it is not broken down readily by water or sunlight. It requires soil to degrade.

Perhaps the ultimate herbicide is falling short and could very well be one culprit of these pesticide-polluted rivers and streams that are putting aquatic life at great risk. Records on 123 pesticides in 2002-2011 found chemicals harmful to fish and other aquatic life in 90% of the water tested areas in urban environments, which is up 53% compared to 1992-2001.

But on another positive note, the pesticide impact on water surrounding agricultural areas seems to be decreasing. Records on 123 pesticides in 2002-2011 found chemicals harmful to fish and other aquatic life in 60% of surface water, compared to 69% in 1992-2001. This reflects the fact that more farmers are doing away with toxic herbicides, as well as adopting better, safer pesticide practices.

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