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A Comparison of the Toxicity of Synergized and Technical Formulations of Permethrin, Sumithrin, and Resmethrin to Trout

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Synthetic pyrethroids often have synergists added to improve effectiveness, yet decisions regarding the use of these pesticides are often based upon toxicity tests using technical material without the synergist, piperonyl butoxide. We conducted toxicity tests with brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) to compare the toxicity of synergized and technical formulations of permethrin, sumithrin, and resmethrin. We found a significant increase in toxicity in the synergized permethrin formulation using traditional 24, 48, and 96-h tests, relative to tests with the technical formulation. However, there was little difference in toxicity between synergized and technical sumithrin until 48 h had elapsed. Many test fish were strongly intoxicated by either formulation of permethrin or sumithrin, but the synergized formulations of both chemicals affected fish at lower concentrations. Intoxication was potentially severe enough to reduce the survival of these fish in the wild. Following short (6-h) exposures, we also found a larger difference in the number of fish that died or became intoxicated between the synergized and technical formulations of permethrin and sumithrin. Finally, we tested the ability of exposed fish to swim against a current. Fish exposed for 6 h to synergized permethrin and resmethrin had far less swimming stamina than those exposed to technical formulations. We found no difference in the effect on swimming between the synergized and technical formulation of sumithrin. In general, the synergized formulations of these chemicals appeared to cause a faster response than the technical formulations. This response increases the lethal and sublethal impacts of the insecticides. We also found that sumithrin was the least toxic of the three pyrethroids. Since the maximum application rate of sumithrin is half that of the other two pyrethroids, the potential risk to wild trout in streams may be reduced.

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