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 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-three sites were sampled in 2016, 16 in England, four in Scotland, three in Wales and three in Northern Ireland.

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.

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