Pyrethroid insecticides and sediment toxicity in urban creeks from California and Tennessee.

Environmental Science & Technology 40(5):1700 (2006) PMID 16568790

Pyrethroid pesticides have replaced organophosphates for many urban applications, including structural pest control, landscape maintenance, and residential home and garden use. This study was intended to determine if pyrethroids are detectable and widespread in diverse urban systems and if concentrations are high enough to cause associated aquatic toxicity. Urban creeks in California and Tennessee were tested on up to four occasions for pesticide residues in sediments, and aquatic toxicity was determined by acute toxicity tests using the amphipod, Hyalella azteca. In California, 12 of the 15 creeks tested were toxic on at least one sampling occasion, and sediment pyrethroid concentrations were sufficient to explain the observed toxicity in most cases. The pyrethroid bifenthrin, due to its high concentrations and relative toxicity as compared to other pyrethroids, was likely responsible for the majority of the toxicity at most sites. Cypermethrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, and lambda-cyhalothrin also contributed to toxicity at some locations. The source of cypermethrin and deltamethrin was probably almost entirely structural pest control by professional applicators. Bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, and lambda-cyhalothrin may have originated either from professional structural pest control or from lawn and garden care by homeowners. None of the sediments collected from the 12 Tennessee creeks were toxic, and pyrethroids were rarely detectable. Regional differences between Tennessee and California are possibly attributable to climate, differences in types of residential development, and pesticide use practices.

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