Estimation of pesticide risks to birds in EPA assessments

A recent commentary published in Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, discusses the potential for pesticide risk assessments by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others to overestimate pesticide risks to aquatic biota and wildlife.

The author cites two EPA risk assessments (chlorpyrifos and malathion, atrazine) that suggest bird species should be experiencing near total reproductive failure due to use of pesticides as currently labeled. Yet, in both cases, bird species in areas where these pesticides are heavily used have been thriving, with expanded populations. In one case, Kirtland’s warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) populations have expanded to the point that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended in 2012 to downlist the species from endangered to threatened.

Dr. Moore also notes that while his focus is on birds, “the reality is that the overestimation of risk issue is a common issue across all receptors” and has implications for the decision-making process.

For more information, contact Dr. Vickie Tatum at the NCASI Southern Regional Center.

Contact Information 

Reference 

Moore, D.R. 2017. The dangers of overestimating avian risks of pesticides. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 13(3):542-545. https://doi.org/10.1002/ieam.1890