What do tadpoles, frogs and crawfish have to do with what we eat?
"Amphibians and frogs are an indicator species, so if you start seeing declines in frogs in an area, that means something's going wrong in the environment and needs to be addressed," explained Taegan McMahon, doctoral candidate at USF.
She joined associate professor Jason Rohr to study the effects of the most commonly used fungicide n the U.S., called chlorothalonil.
"It's used on golf courses, on peanut and potato production, so it's a chemical that's likely encountered by humans," Rohr said.
As part of the experiment, they created a pond habitat with various organisms including plankton, algae, snails, and frogs. They then used chlorothalonil at levels that are currently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
As a result, it killed most of the organisms in the experiment, including the frogs. It did not kill the algae blooms, which can also be toxic to the environment.
"I think we need to have a better grasp on the dose response so that way we can provide particular recommendations of which concentrations or levels of the chemical are safe to fresh water organisms, so that we can better inform the U.S. EPA."
Rachel Carson's book 'Silent Spring' led to the EPA banning DDT, but yet this closely related fungicide is still being used in the market. The reason why? It's an effective fungicide and these scientists say this experiment maybe the first step towards weighing whether the risks of chorothalonil outweigh the benefits.
While the effects on humans is still unclear, you can avoid contact with chlorothalonil by eating organic foods.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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