Updated: Jan 29
Because California is the largest grower of agricultural products, it also uses more pesticides than any other state. Fumigation is a method of pest control, a way to kill insects that destroy crops. Part of the reason why farmers fumigate is because they invite insect problems by using inorganic fertilizers. Among the most used soil fumigants include Chloropicrin (used in Chemical Warfare by Germany in World War I). Another soil fumigant is Methyl Bromide, which selectively destroys common root destroying fungi. The best thing a resident can do is buy organic groceries and use organic fertilizers. All of these agents end up in our rivers. Do your homework; there are natural, less harmful ways of controlling pests. Mint oil sprays are non-toxic, except to insects.
California has been the number one food and agricultural producer in the United States for over fifty consecutive years. During that time, farmers have relied on an herbicide called Atrazine to fight weeds in corn, grain sorghum, sugar cane, and other crops. UC Berkeley students found a frog in a Atrazine contaminated pond located near a farm. The frog was born a male and now functions as a female. The amount of Atrazine it took to turn the biologically born male frog into a biologically functioning female frog that actually lays eggs, is three times less than what's allowed in our drinking water.
The water that is causing the frogs problems is the same water that we are drinking and using to water our crops (full cycle).
Atrazine is a common herbicide and the most common containment found in ground water, surface water and drinking water. Reproductive abnormalities like this have been reported in everything from alligators to humans. Scientists are finding in suburban and rural ponds, reproductive and other deformities in as many as 1 in 5 frogs. Cases vary from frogs growing three legs (a third leg off of their second legs’ knee for example) to the growth of reproductive female frog eggs developing in male frog testicles. This is despicable.
Medications and Chemicals
A lot of people don’t realize when they flush household chemicals or medications down their toilets, it could end up passing out of their house, through a septic field, right into a local pond. There are a huge range of drugs that people take, many of which leave their bodies intact, let alone intentional flushing. Prescription medicines should never be flushed down a toilet unless your pharmacist or the drug manufacturer tells you specifically that the particular drug is absolutely harmless to the environment. To find out how to properly dispose of old or unwanted medication, please call your pharmacy. This is a national problem with real consequences, but we can make the communities we live in healthier for our children, ourselves and for our pets.
There's a growing detection of pharmaceuticals such as birth control pills, anti-depressants, painkillers, shampoos, and other compounds in rivers, lakes, streams, and ground water, including drinking water. Pharmaceutical and personal care products are being flushed down drains, passing through sewage treatment systems and private residential septic systems into the aquifer. Beyond a possible hazard of inadvertent consumption of antibiotics (and growing development of bacteria resistant to our antibiotics), it is possible that very low levels of other compounds will have a drastic effect on some animals, possibly going un-detected until that population declines beyond its ability to recover.
No one should take antibiotics without the approval of a medical professional. However, consumers are taking small amounts of antibiotics every day without realizing it. Antibiotics can also be found in vegetables and fruits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture funded a study to test this. Scientists took manure from animals that were given the antibiotics. They grew different plants in the manure and then tested its leaves. What they found was alarming: the antibiotic was present in fruits, vegetables as well as the vegetable leaves. The amount of antibiotic in the plant was directly related to the amount in the soil. The plants absorbed antibiotics in the soil as it grew. Crops that grow underground might absorb even more antibiotics from the soil. Examples of such crops include potatoes, radishes, and carrots.
Think Before You flush
Our struggle to keep antibiotics effective in treating diseases does not stop with animals and produce. Antibiotics are also in our streams and rivers. In 2002, the U.S. Geological Survey tested 139 streams in 30 states. They found that 80% of the streams had traces of chemicals used for human and animal medicines. They also found dozens of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals in streams and rivers across the U.S. This is not only animal feed antibiotics, but also antibiotics and other drugs that we flush down the toilet without a second thought. It might seem that “traces” of an antibiotic does not sound that dangerous. But “traces” of an antibiotic is exactly what helps bacteria become resistant. The bacteria gradually fight off the antibiotic when it is confronted with it repeatedly. Furthermore, such bacteria can also more easily learn how to resist other antibiotics.