Dangerous and harmful pesticides were in heavy use in the 1980s and before.  They were used to repel insects and other pests from farmers’ crops, but the chemical compounds created were found to be very harmful to the environment and human beings.  The properties that prevented pests from harming the crops are also the properties that enable pesticides to persist in the environment.  Most danger comes to humans from coming into contact with exposed soil, contaminated air, or polluted waters.  The pesticides were sprayed onto the crops and became embedded in the soils.  This soil would then runoff from rainfall and be deposited in local water.  The pesticides accumulate in bottom sediment of all kinds of water bodies.  Fish come into contact with the pesticides in the water through either direct contact or bioaccumulation, where they consume smaller fish with pesticide poisoning.  Fish exposure shows reduced viability of sperm, eggs and larvae and increased incidences of abnormalities.  Because the pesticides persist in the tissue of the fish, it is advised to cut skin and fat before cooking fish.  



The form of this pesticide that still harms fish and can poison humans is Dieldrin.  Dieldrin is the form of Aldrin after is is broken down; this breakdown comes from exposure to sunlight.  This pesticide was banned in 1974, except for use on termites and in 1987 wasa banned all together for any purpose.  It can still be found in sediment and water, however.  The EPA has set safety standards for drinking water at .001 to .002 mg/L and allows up to .1 part per million (ppm) in raw foods, including fish.  Dieldrin has been linked to tumors, convulsions, liver damage and nervous system problems.  It has also been call a “probable carcinogen” by the EPA.


Mirex was a pesticide used to control fire ants.  It stays in the top soil and does not evaporate quickly as some other pesticides do.  This causes the soil to be contaminated for long periods of time and can get into water through the erosion of the top soil.  Mirex has been linked to liver and kidney damage and nervous system problems.  The EPA has called it a “probable carcinogen”.  The EPA has set its fish limit at 1 part per trillion (ppt) and the FDA determined that eating foods below 100 ppt is safe. 


DDE and DDD are the chemical breakdown products of the now famous pesticide DDT.  DDT does not dissolve easily in water, so its major problems stemmed from ground pollution and human exposure above water.   DDT was banned in 1972, but it still persists in the oceans today, though in much smaller quantities.  It has been linked to premature births, low birth weight, spontaneous abortion, and nervous system failures.  The EPA has labeled it a “probable carcinogen”. 


Chlordane was a pesticide used from 1948 to 1988, when it was banned.  It was primarily used on corn and citrus crops.  Until the 1970s, it was used as a home and garden pesticide when it was banned for all uses except termite control.  This pesticide usually stays in the top soil, so it doesn’t penetrate to the ground water.  This does mean that it can still runoff into watersheds and pollute water and fish there.  It has been shown to cause high tumor rates in exposed animals, and exposure in the womb can cause nervous system damage.  The EPA has listed it as a “probable carcinogen”, and set the limit at 2 ppb in drinking water. 


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

and the threat of severe neurological and developmental problems. This is in the devastation category of a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Will the Bush Administration use this Pollutant of Mass Destruction on the American people? This is not just an environmental issue. The health of the nation’s families is seriously at stake.