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A brief summary of the risks found in the Biological Opinion

by Josh Vincent — last modified Apr 09, 2012 12:40 PM
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On March 30, 2012 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released a draft Biological Opinion evaluating the risk of three herbicides - oryzalin, pendimethalin and trifluralin - on threatened and endangered Pacific salmon and steelhead. Below is a short summary of NMFS’s findings.

TRIFLURALIN

Trifluralin is an herbicide registered for use in orchards and row crops as well as rights-of-way, lawns and home gardens. Trifluralin inhibits seed germination in plants. It is considered of "high" risk to 16 species of salmon and steelhead found in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California.  

Trifluralin has been found in west coast salmon waters at levels that kill salmon outright by causing vertebral deformities. It also kills salmon food sources and dimishes the health of riparian areas by limiting plant diversity. (BiOp p 538-39)

ORYZALIN

Oryzalin is an herbicide registered for use in orchards and vineyards as well as rights-of-way, lawns and home gardens. Oryzalin inhibits seed germination in plants. Oryzalin is considered of "medium" risk to 10 species of salmon and steelhead found in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. 

While oryzalin is unlikely to kill salmon outright it jeopardizes their survival by killing salmon prey and dimishing the health of riparian areas by limiting plant diversity. NMFS saw clear lines where the loss of food and habitat would reduce fish reproduction. (BiOp pg 536)

PENDIMETHALIN

Pendimethalin is  an herbicide registered for use in orchards and row crops as well as rights-of-way, lawns and home gardens. Pendimethalin inhibits seed germination in plants. Pendimethalin is considered of "medium" risk to 16 species of salmon and steelhead found in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. 

While pendimethalin is unlikely to kill salmon outright it jeopardizes their survival by killing salmon prey and dimishing the health of riparian areas by limiting plant diversity. NMFS saw clear lines where the loss of food and habitat would reduce fish reproduction. (BiOp pg 537)
 
People are also at risk from these three herbicides. The U.S. Environmental Protection agency determined that all three are possible human carcinogens.