A recently released report by the Environment Agency (EA) stated that 81 out of 647 drinking water sources in England and Wales contained detectable levels of a slug poison called metaldehyde. ( source )
Health and safety experts in the EA claim the levels detected pose no danger to the environment or humans… but other folks, like ourselves, believe the introduction of ANY foreign compound into the environment or human body poses, on some level, a risk.
Where did the pesticides come from?
As we mentioned earlier, pesticides (in this case slug poisons) use metaldehyde. Farmers distribute pellets containing metaldehyde around their crops to keep slugs from destroying their plants.
Heavy rains in recent times resulted in greater than usual amounts of runoff carrying slug poisons (and other agricultural matter) away from agricultural areas and into bodies of water.
Then, after the rains stopped, farmers needed to re-apply the slug poisons to protect their crops from slug damage… and the cycle started over again.
Why not just ban the use of metaldehyde?
Three words: Because it works! (and no one has come up with a better solution for slugs… or have they?)
Some environmentalists argue that a MUCH better slug preventative exists and has ALWAYS existed. Creatures like hedgehogs, frogs, toads, wild birds, predatory nematodes, and carabid beetles whose numbers have dwindled (as a result of mankind’s actions!) love to munch on slugs!
*** Pause for dramatic effect while you think about chewing on a slug ***
By re-introducing more natural predators of the slug into the picture environmentalists theorize that farmers could become less reliant on poisons that contain metaldehyde.
And in conclusion?
Whether you live in England or Wales where slugs need killing or near the Mississippi River where nitrate levels have risen this year, the risk of drinking water contamination as a result of runoff will always exist. That fact alone should make each and every one of us want to stay vigilant and monitor the quality of the water we drink.