Near-death experiences: sublethal effects of pesticides on pollinating insects

Negative impacts of pesticides on pollinators can take different forms: direct kills on contact (called lethal effects) or indirect effects, through the pollinators’ abilities to reproduce (called sublethal effects). These sublethal effects are generally not spotted by regulatory bodies through traditional ecotoxicological tests, but have severe impacts on pollinator health.

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The science behind the pesticide that was almost banned

Last year, there was considerable news coverage on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to not ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide which is believed to cause negative effects on brain development in children. While a lot of the media coverage focused on the nature of the decision, little was reported on the science itself. Thus, I have summarized below EPA’s assessment on the health effects of the pesticide on humans.

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Drug resistance in one of the remote regions of the world

Drug resistance is a common problem due to the human activities. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics has resulted in the development of resistance in disease-causing bacteria (microorganisms) found in soil. But, scientists have also found this resistance even in the soil from remote regions far away from human influence.

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Spawn of the Dead

Migratory animals such as the Pacific salmon are critical to the transport of nutrients and energy across large distances and between different ecosystems. However, along with important nutrients also come contaminants and pollutants. To understand the impacts of salmon, Brandon Gerig and colleagues investigate contaminant levels of riparian fish populations in streams where salmon runs do and do not occur in the Great Lakes region.

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Beefore It’s Too Late: A Study of Diminishing Bee Populations and Why We Must Act Now!

There has been a major decline in bee populations over the past 50 years, although demand for insect pollination has tripled. In their article, Dave Goulson and colleagues touch on problems such as habitat loss, intensification of agriculture, and increasing reliance on pesticides, which can mean pollinators are chronically exposed to harmful chemicals faster due to climate change. About 75% of our crop species benefit from insect pollinators, which provide a global service worth $ 215 billion in food production. If we enter the pollination crisis, crop yields may begin to fall which is concerning for the future generations.

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It’s a nutrient, it’s a deicer, it’s polluting our environment.

Winter is over… Or at least according to the calendar. Yet, this morning I awoke to flurries in Cambridge, Massachusetts. These flurries turned into full-fledged snowfall by the time I got to work. Really? It’s April 2nd. The good thing is that hopefully the city will not see the need to salt the roads heavily because it should be warm enough to prevent ice patches from forming.

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Are Warmer Waters More Toxic?

Cyanobacteria are an aquatic microorganism that releases a toxin known as microcystin, which can negatively impact water quality and endanger human health. They need sunlight and nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) to grow, but are dependent on other environmental factors such as water temperature. A research team in Ohio focused their research on how water temperatures affect cyanobacteria abundance and microcystin concentration in water. The results demonstrate that water temperature can be used to forecast cyanobacteria growth and toxin severity.

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