Water pollution starts at home

Water pollution starts at home

Water pollution starts at home

Pesticides and fertilizers from homes are a major and overlooked source of water pollution, according to new research from the University of California, Davis. Previous estimates may have underestimated water pollution from homes by up to 50%, the study says. 

Researchers monitored homes in eight different neighborhoods in California, and say that the estimates likely extend to households across the country.

Pesticides, particularly for ant control, were the most common source of pollution. Surprisingly, pesticides made from organophosphate chemicals, which have been off the market in California since 2002, turned up in many of the samples.

“We expected to find pesticides, but I think we were surprised at how consistently we found them,” says Lorence Oki, a landscape expert who lead the research.

E.coli bacteria was also found in water samples, and could have come from wildlife like rabbits and birds, but also from peoples’ dogs and cats.

Previous models underestimated home water pollution because they relied on data only from the rainy season, which measured pollution washed into municipal storm drains after rainfall. But these newer models tracked pollutants during both the rainy and dry seasons, and found that activities such as garden watering or car washing washes a significant amount of pollutants into storm drains, and that the concentration of pesticides is higher during the dry season.

Oki says that outreach programs focused on pest management and irrigation control could help reduce the number of pesticides and fertilizers and decrease the amount of water used on gardens.

By Monica Heger
Photo: Sources of polluted runoff. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Advertisements

Homes contribute to 50 percent more water pollution than previously believed

WASHINGTON – A new study has determined that homes are an alarming and probably underestimated source of water pollution, and can contribute to 50 percent more water pollution than previously believed.

Scientists Lorence Oki, Darren Haver and colleagues carried out the study.

In the study, the research team explains that runoff results from rainfall and watering of lawns and gardens, which winds up in municipal storm drains.

The runoff washes fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into storm drains, and they eventually appear in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.

“Results from our sampling and monitoring study revealed high detection frequencies of pollutants such as pesticides and pathogen indicators at all sites,” Oki said of their study of eight residential areas in Sacramento and Orange Counties in California.

Preliminary results of the study suggest that current models may underestimate the amount of pollution contributed by homes by up to 50 percent.

That’s because past estimates focused on rain-based runoff during the wet season.

Water Pollution from Home

Water Pollution from Home

“Use of pesticides, however, increases noticeably during the dry season due to gardening, and our data contains greater resolution than previous studies,” Oki said.

Pollutants detected in outdoor runoff included ant-control pesticide products.

Previous surveys have shown that the majority of pesticides purchased by homeowners are used to control ants.

To encourage pollutant reduction, the researchers initiated community outreach programs centered on improving both irrigation control and pest management. (ANI)

from taragana