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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Release: May 19, 1999
Jim Ebbert, Supervisory Hydrologist
(253) 428-3600, ext. 2682

New Study Links Spring Pesticide Sales to Presence in Puget Sound Streams

Lawn and garden pesticides were found in urban Puget Sound Basin streams--Diazinon, 2,4-D, and MCPP, the pesticides most often bought in retail stores, according to a new fact sheet released today by the U.S. Geological Survey. The study was done in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Ecology and the King County Hazardous Waste Management Program.

During the peak pesticide residential application months of April and May in 1998, the USGS and Ecology sampled water at 12 stream sites for 98 compounds. At 100 percent of the sites, tests detected the insecticide Diazinon and several herbicides, including 2,4-D.

Scientists checked 1997 sales data and found these are among the most frequently bought pesticides in retail stores. The sales data were for large home-and-garden stores in King and south Snohomish counties.

"Five of the pesticides found in water samples were above levels set for protection of aquatic life," said Frank Voss, lead author of the fact sheet and hydrologist with the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. "Out of those five pesticides, four of them were bought and used by residents on their lawns and gardens."

Of the 23 total pesticides found in water samples, about half are not commonly sold in home-and-garden stores, indicating that these pesticides are being applied to nonresidential areas.

The study, "Pesticides Detected in Urban Streams During Rainstorms and Relations to Retail Sales of Pesticides in King County, Washington," is published as USGS Fact Sheet 097-99.

For a free copy of the fact sheet, contact the USGS Washington Water Science Center at 1201 Pacific Avenue, Suite 600, Tacoma, Washington 98402, (253) 428-3600, ext. 2653, or email Luis Fusté, Information Officer, at

It may also be viewed on the World Wide Web at

As the nation's largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2,000 organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial, scientific information to resource managers, planners, and other customers. This information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters, contribute to sound economic and physical development of the nation's natural resources, and enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological, energy, and mineral resources.

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