Now that the summer gardening season is in full swing, home and garden stores up and down the West Coast will warn consumers of the dangers to salmon posed by seven common pesticides. Earlier this summer, “Salmon Hazard” signs were distributed by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of a legal settlement with consumer and salmon advocates.
The consumer education campaign targets hundreds of products containing seven pesticides that contaminate urban streams, and can harm salmon or salmon habitat. All pesticides with the ingredients malathion, carbaryl, 2,4-D, diazinon, diuron, triclopyr, or trifluralin must carry the warning, according to court order.
“People need to know that the choices they make in the pesticide aisle make a real difference in the health of our salmon runs,” said Erika Schreder of Washington Toxics Coalition. “The ‘Salmon Hazard’ warnings will help consumers buying lawn and garden products make better choices for salmon, and for their families.”
The warning reads:
This product contains pesticides that may harm salmon or steelhead.
Use of this product in urban areas can pollute salmon streams.
“Waterborne pesticides have long been a serious problem for salmon,” added Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, a co-plaintiff in the original case. “It is far better to keep these chemicals out of the river in the first place and much harder to clean up a river after the damage has been done.”
On May 30, 2006, the US EPA sent the consumer warning signs to thousands of stores in more than 500 communities, where close to 16 million people live. These retailers are required to post the warning signs near all products that contain the seven pesticides.
Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice attorney who won the protections, said, “This is a victory for consumers and their families. Gardeners have a choice when it comes to buying pesticides, and salmon will swim in cleaner streams as a result.”
A similar consumer education effort failed in 2004 when the pesticide industry sent consumer warning signs to stores without adequate instructions for posting.
“The pesticide industry tried to sink this important consumer education campaign,” said Aimee Code of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. “This year, there’s no hiding the fact that some pesticides hurt salmon and salmon streams.”
The case that mandated the consumer warning signs also mandated no-spray buffers for 38 pesticides along thousands of miles of salmon-supporting waters. The consumer warning signs were included in the order to address the specific concerns of pesticide runoff present in the urban environment where storm drains act as conduits, moving pesticides miles from lawns and gardens to streams and rivers.
The seven pesticides that require consumer warning signs are:
Common Product Names
Type of Pesticide
Example of Concerns to Salmon
Reduced egg production and fertilization; reduced swimming speed in fish.
Found in weed and feed products
Disrupted sex hormones of fish
Reduced sperm production in male salmon.
Reduced growth of aquatic plants and chlorophyll production.
50% Malathion Spray and Home Orchard Spray
Deformed spines; disrupted temperature selection in fish.
Crossbow and Brush-B-Gone
Increased respiration rates; flared gills; disoriented swimming behavior in fish.
Gordon’s Weed Preventer Granules
Highly toxic to fish; caused skeletal abnormalities.