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Study Finds Frogs Near Agricultural Fields More Likely To Be Deformed

Deformed frog(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2007) According to the Associated Press (AP), a new study finds frogs in Vermont living near farms are more than twice as likely as those living elsewhere to have deformities like missing legs. Yale University ecologist David Skelly, Ph.D., told the AP he decided to look at Vermont frogs because the state has been a hot spot during the last 10 years for deformed frogs.

“We went to all these wetlands and cataloged where the deformities were found, and what kind of landscapes seemed to pose higher risks, if any,” Dr. Skelly said. “The answer was, frogs growing up in proximity to agriculture were more than two times as likely to have deformities. This doesn’t say it is chemical pesticides, but you can’t credibly consider this problem of the frogs without at least evaluating whether pesticides are involved.”

Richard Levey, a biologist with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, said two common farm chemicals, atrazine and metolachlor, had been found in trace amounts in water from wetlands where deformed frogs had been found. But he told the AP that the concentrations were far below those thought to have any effect on aquatic life.

Research by Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., a professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, has found pesticides, including atrazine, to cause serious deformities at levels well below EPA drinking water standards.

While Dr. Hayes’ research has not linked pesticides to this specific deformity, he has shown dramatic effects at extremely low levels. Past research by Dr. Hayes has demonstrated that exposure to doses of atrazine as small as 0.1 parts per billion – a level permitted in drinking water by EPA – turns tadpoles into hermaphrodites – creatures with both male and female sexual characteristics. Dr. Hayes’ team found that up to 20 percent of frogs exposed during their early development produced multiple sex organs or had both male and female organs. Many also had small, feminized larynxes.

Dr. Skelly believes his research has discounted one theory, which was that the deformities are being caused by a naturally occurring parasite, a type of flatworm blamed for frog deformities in the Pacific Northwest. He says the flatworm in question has not been found in Vermont wetlands.

The study, “Ribeiroia Infection Is Not Responsible for Vermont Amphibian Deformities,” is available in the June issue of EcoHealth.

Source: Associated Press


3 Responses to “Study Finds Frogs Near Agricultural Fields More Likely To Be Deformed”

  1. 1
    dog looks for safe lawn Says:

    I have seen frogs with missing limbs and stunted limb growth in frogs in my back yard ever since Tru Green Chem Lawn has been used by several neighbors whose land abuts wetlands near a pond along the street. The pesticide applicators are permitted to spray within 25 feet of wetlands even when there are vernal pools who drain into a high level of ground water and into the existing wetlands.
    “Silent Spring” has arrived too.
    Fewer and fewer frogs make their calls to mates, the lillies are all but gone, few turtles swim, and fish are lying at the surface encoiled in dense milfoil and loose strife!
    There are no laws or town ordinances to challenge this nor the clear cutting of trees. You can request assistance here, but people look the other way and arguments ensue. Apparently, people have a right to do what they want even at the expense of nature. Isnt this nice?
    If you want to read about the hazards of lawn chemicals in general please read:
    http://www.refusetousechemlawn.org it’s a very telling report available at this site too.

  2. 2
    dog looks for safe lawn Says:

    Here I go again. Yes, this is happening in more places than you will think possible. Amphibians give us a clue as to the health of our environment. They are trying to warn us. Wake up!
    Use organics and your burping friends will jump with 4 strong legs and keep a beautiful orchestra going in wetlands. No tickets are required.

  3. 3
    Rose Says:

    Why is it that Humankind has become a scourge on the planet? Why can’t were listen to all of the tree-huggers and planet activists? Is it because we’re too proud? If so, HOW can we be PROUD of what we’ve done? If anything, we should, as a people, look on in horror at what we’ve done to the planet we call home. The world is DYING!! All because of the virus called Humankind. I’m REVOLTED by what I see EVERY DAY, outside my door. Do I think we can change? Honestly, no, I don’t. Not unless some miracle happens and we, as a race of intellegent people, start to actually CARE!

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