Over-the-counter pesticides found in islands’ forage fish-San Juan Journal

Very troubling findings in a recent research on pesticides found in Sand Lance which are fish eaten by many higher level predators. Please do not use pesticide sprays like this for carpenter ants and other insects. You likely are poisoning yourself and the environment.

An intriguing sidelight of the Kwiaht study is a finding that sand lances collected closest to Admiralty Inlet, the entrance to Puget Sound, were on average twice as contaminated with pyrethroid pesticides as sand lances collected on the north side of San Juan County closest to the Fraser River plume.


4 Responses

  1. Instead of pesticide sprays for ants, make a line of baby powder about 1/2″ high. Ants won’t cross it.

  2. I think a much stronger case would be made if the article focused on what is known instead of speculation. When trying to convey causality, the article relied on mushy statements such as:

    “it is unclear whether the levels of pesticides seen in sand lances are sufficient to interfere with their growth and reproduction…”

    “It would not be surprising to find…”

    “their molecular structure may make them…”

    “this suggests a potential…”

    “which may be contaminated…”

    “…presumably from insects…’

    If there were just a few unknowns in an article full of other known, factual causalities, it wouldn’t have raised my eyebrows so much. However, these rhetorical associations (may, suggests, presumably, …) make up the core of this article, without even any statistical clues as to the probability that they are true, such as, “there is a xx% chance that…” Furthermore, this kind of reporting of important sounding possibilities without any real facts is the basis for so many other articles in our media that it has actually become the norm, so this article doesn’t really stand out in that regard.

    I do understand that our scientific understanding of these things is partial and a work in progress. However I would have been much more encouraged if instead of: “Kwiaht researchers hope to train staff and volunteers of community conservation organizations elsewhere in the Salish Sea to do their own toxic-loading studies” they had said that the researchers planned to train media writers to report what is really known instead of using rhetoric to conflate the results to make for more exciting reading.

    • I’ve asked them for a pointer to the full study. Should answer some of your questions. But these kind of findings in a newspaper are sort of normal. One would expect to see much greater detail in the full report. Also, this is likely the first time that these kind of pesticides have been even searched for, let alone found in the food chain that sustains a huge number of species, including us.

      • Yes, it is pretty normal, that’s why I’m saying something. Maybe we can help the norm evolve to be better. If vague words like “may” are accompanied by some indication of the probabilities or other contextualizing facts, it helps provide information for the readers to make informed decisions about what they are reading. Is that important?

        If the Washington Lotto web page simply said that you “may” win millions of dollars every time you play, that would not help people make a decision whether to play or not, and it would probably be illegal. Instead, their web site provides at least basic statistics associated with winning.

        I think that media articles should be held to a similar standard, particularly commercial media which pays reporters and makes profits. Articles, particularly ones on serious topics, should give some indication of what is actually known and references to where more info might be found.

        I think that the media companies won’t lobby for such a change, it’s the readers, educators, and media reviewers like you who need to convince Sound Publishing and others that they need to meet a higher standard.

        OK, maybe I’m just dreaming, but sometimes dreams give rise to transformational change.

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