UpClose: A toxicologist investigates pesticides in urban waterways

March 25th, 2016 by

What happens when a canary in the coal mine can no longer be trusted to sound the alarm? Environmental chemist Michael Lydy answers this question in the latest edition of UpClose.

Lydy and his team at Southern Illinois University Carbondale are in the early stages of a three-year study examining the prevalence of pyrethroid insecticide resistance in a crustacean used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to gauge the health of waterways. Widespread resistance in Hyalella azteca—something Lydy and others have already found in California and the Midwest—would raise doubts about the accuracy of a spectrum of state and federal biomonitoring programs.

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Illinois Water Resources Center, the study will also investigate whether a testing method known as Tenax can help scientists and natural resources managers more accurately predict the threat pyrethroids pose to aquatic life.

UpClose with  is the eleventh issue of the award-winning Q&A series that gives readers an insider’s view of research on emerging contaminants. Each interview highlights a unique component of emerging contaminant research. Readers also learn about the complex, and sometimes tricky, process of conducting field studies and the potential implications of research on industries and regulations.




Reducing the use of lawn chemicals prevents pollution in nearby waterways

September 17th, 2014 by

Lawn care decisions play a large role in local water quality and the health of aquatic wildlife. The fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals we put on our lawns can be washed into nearby lakes and rivers in stormwater runoff. Once there, these pollutants spur algae growth, clog gills, decrease resistance to disease, and suffocate eggs and newly hatched larvae. 

The IISG-led Lawn to Lake program continues to educate homeowners, landscapers, and master gardeners on natural lawn care practices that can improve soil health and protect water quality. The program works with community partners across the region to conduct training workshops and provide ‘how to’ resources for a range of audiences. 

Lawn to Lake outreach has led to management changes on an estimated 22,415 lawn acres. These changes are expected to reduce the use of lawn care chemicals, including weed and feed, by more than 3 million pounds a year, protecting nearby aquatic ecosystems from chemical-laden runoff while fostering healthy lawns. 

To learn more about how IISG is empowering communities and individuals to secure a healthy environment, check out our 2013 program impacts. 

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