FL02 PDF (212pp) - Page 8

Heavy neonicotinoid insecticide contamination
damaging British rivers
The first analysis of new monitoring
data reveals that British freshwaters
are heavily contaminated with neonicotinoids. Half of the sites monitored
in England exceed chronic pollution
limits and two rivers are acutely polluted. Aquatic insects are just as vulnerable to neonicotinoid insecticides
as bees and flying insects, yet they
have not received the same attention
because the UK Government has not
responded to calls to introduce systematic monitoring.
However, under the EU Water
Framework Directive ‘Watch List’ initiative, the UK was required to introduce a pilot monitoring scheme for all
five commonly used neonicotinoids –
Imidacloprid, Clothianidin, Thiamethoxam, Acetamiprid and Thiacloprid. Twenty-six sites were sampled in 2016: 16 in England, four in
Scotland, three in Wales and three in
Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland data has yet to be released to the
public. 88% of sites in Britain were
contaminated with neonicotinoids,
eight rivers in England exceeded recommended chronic pollution limits,
and two were acutely polluted. Populations of mayflies and other insects
in these rivers are likely to be heavily
impacted with implications for fish
and bird populations.
The River Waveney on the Norfolk/Suffolk border was the worst polluted river with the acute harm level
exceeded for a whole month, and the
River Wensum in Norfolk, a Special
Area of Conservation for its river life,
was also chronically polluted. These
rivers supply the Broads, an internationally important wetland site and
home to many endangered aquatic
animals. Sugar beet fields are the
most likely source of pollution in
these rivers.
The River Tame, an almost entirely
urban river in the West Midlands was
only monitored twice, and the second
reading was very high, indicating a
probable industrial or disposal pollution event. Initial enquiries with the
Environment Agency suggest that
there has, as yet, been no regulatory
or policy response to the high levels of
pollution detected, nor to the apparent pollution incident.
Concerns are raised about the levels of imidacloprid recorded in rivers,
including urban rivers and a remote
Scottish stream in the Cairngorms.
Imidacloprid is now a rare arable
insecticide, but its high persistence in
soil means that it will continue polluting water in arable areas for years to
come. However, it is still used in
greenhouses, which are known to be
a particular pollution risk to water
bodies and is used as a flea treatment
on pets. The most likely source of pollution in the Cairngorms is a treated
dog entering the stream.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the
Angling Trust and Fish Legal, said:
“Three years ago, the Angling Trust
pressed the Environment Agency to
sample neonicotinoids in rivers after
academic papers showed that they
can have a significant impact on


Powered by

Full screen Click to read
Paperturn flip book system
Download as PDF
Shopping cart
Full screen
Exit full screen