A class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, which are used on a lot of big corn and soybean fields, has been getting a pretty bad rap lately.
Researchers have implicated these chemicals, which are similar to nicotine, as a contributor to the alarming decline of bee colonies. That led the European Union to place a on their use, and environmentalists want the U.S. to .
In a published July 24, researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey found that these chemicals are also leaching into streams and rivers in the Midwest — including the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. And that may be bad news for aquatic life in the region, the scientists say.
"We did the study because the use of the neonicotinoids has been increasing dramatically, especially in the Midwest," says , an environmental organic chemist with the USGS.
And since these chemicals are highly water soluble, it made sense to investigate whether they were present in the region's streams and rivers, Kuivila tells The Salt.