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Society is becoming increasingly aware of the value of healthy aquatic ecosystems as well as the effects that man's activities have on those ecosystems. In recent years, many urban and industrial sources of contamination have been reduced or eliminated. The agricultural community also has worked towards reducing off-site movement of agricultural chemicals, but their use in farming is still growing. A small fraction, estimated at <1 to 2% of the pesticides applied to crops are lost from fields and enter nearby streams during rainfall events. In many cases aquatic organisms are exposed to mixtures of chemicals, which may lead to greater non-target risk than that predicted based on traditional risk assessments for single chemicals. We evaluated the potential toxicity of environmental mixtures of 5 classes of pesticides using concentrations from water samples collected from ???50 sites on midwestern streams during late spring or early summer runoff events in 1989 and 1998. Toxicity index values are calculated as the concentration of the compound in the sample divided by the EC50 or LC50 of an aquatic organism. These index values are summed within a pesticide class and for all classes to determine additive pesticide class and total pesticide toxicity indices. Toxicity index values greater than 1.0 indicate probable toxicity of a class of pesticides measured in a water sample to aquatic organisms. Results indicate that some samples had probable toxicity to duckweed and green algae, but few are suspected of having significant toxicity to bluegill sunfish or chorus frogs.
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Potential toxicity of pesticides measured in midwestern streams to aquatic organisms