Turf Trouble

Florida Lawn Spray Spreads Disturbing Effects

Chlorothalonil, sold under the brand names Bravo, Echo and Daconil, is a toxic fungicide that’s been used by farmers for more than 40 years to protect 65-plus crops—including fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants and nuts—from 125 diseases caused by mold and fungus. It’s also become a popular commercial turf grass and home lawn spray in Florida.

Researchers at the University of South Florida (USF), in Tampa, conducted an experiment they claim mimics real-world conditions of application and runoff into waterways that produced alarming results. USF Biologist Taegan McMahon, co-author of the study published in the journal Ecology Letters, describes how a variety of species were affected. “It basically wiped out all of the amphibians,” McMahon reports. Most of the snails, crayfish, water plants and other creatures in a series of tanks, including the smallest floating organisms, also died, which allowed algae to grow into oxygen-hogging blooms. The poison works by disrupting cellular respiration.

Co-author Biologist Jason Rohr states, “Some species were able to recover from the chemical assault, but the ecosystem was fundamentally changed after its exposure to chlorothalonil.”

The researchers note that the results of this ecosystem-level experiment are consistent with several laboratory toxicity studies and observations in the field.

Source: Tampa Bay Online/The Tampa Tribune

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