Study Finds Neonic Pesticides in US Drinking Water

For the fist time small traces of the world’s most widely used insecticides have been detected in tap water.

In Iowa scientists took samples that show levels of neonicotinoid chemicals remained constant despite treatment. However drinking water treated using a different method of filtration showed big reductions in neonic levels. further study is required before any conclusions can be drawn relating to human health.

The introduction of neonicotinoids began in the early 1990’s. The were seen as an improvement  because they are usually applied as a seed coating, lethal to insects, but not to other species. Sales have grown greatly over time.


The concern over the environmental impact has also grown…concerns about causing harm to bees. The concern is so great that in the EU neonics has faced a moratorium on their use on flowering crops since 2013.

A US Geological Survey from 2015 found neonics in widespread samples from 48 rivers and streams in the US. This new study from the USGS and the University of Iowa looked at tap water that was treated in two different treatment systems. Samples from the U of I treatment plant barely removed any of the neonic chemicals. Water taken from the Iowa City treatment facility removed almost all of the neonics.

To be sure the values in the water are quite small to begin with, but there is some concern as to the longer effects of exposure.   Part of what is going on is because the scientists want to bring or expose us to their concerns over the neonics.  For instance , the insecticides might be transformed by the filtration process into other substances that pose an even greater threat.

The study does present evidence that the presence of neonics in drinking water can be essentially negated if activated carbon filtration systems are used.

So it appears we can shield ourselves from the neonics in the water supply, but what can we do for the bees…given what they do for us?


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