Monday, July 9, 2012

Pesticides and personal experience

many years ago before i was a chemist, i had a cat.
The cat was Siamese and was unusual the way Siamese cats often are.
He caught, one spring 4 baby quail and brought them to us unharmed.
We decided to raise them and built a large cage on the side of the yard.
The quail lived several years until a neighbor decided to spray their entire yard for insects.
Being in the 1960's - Chlordane was the probable agent and maybe mixed with dieldren.
The quailed died immediately after the spraying, along with a Horn Toad that liked our rock garden and a Red eared terrapin (turtle).
I did not understand all of it at that time, but it left an impression that i would not use pesticides when ever possible.
Fast forward to 2012 and a discussion with a state person asking for the original copies of test results from 1990.
The strange thing about this is that things have changed.
In 1990,the current method used for detection was not widely used.
The best Gas Chromatography used capillary tubes and the best detection level i saw was 0.5 ppb -
the current action level for chlordane is 0.3 ppb and 0.03 for dieldren and most levels are below 0.5 ppb.
There was an experimental method (at the time) that reached 0.1 ppb,
but the reality is you are comparing apples and squash - not even the same classification.

How we learn
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