Developed to replace organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, neonicotinoids are structurally similar to nicotine. The three main neonicotinoid insecticides, imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam, are being re-evaluated by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). An important aspect of the re-evaluation is the potential for effects in non-target organisms, including aquatic organisms. Leaching into surface waters is one of the major concerns surrounding extensive use of neonicotinoids, especially in close proximity to water bodies. The PMRA has classified IMI as 'persistent' with a 'high' leaching potential. Globally, neonicotinoids have been detected in a variety of water bodies, typically at concentrations in the low μg/L range. While IMI has been included in some monitoring exercises, there are currently very few published data for the presence of CLO and THM in Canadian water bodies. The majority of neonicotinoid toxicity studies have been conducted with IMI due to its longer presence on the market and high prevalence of use. Aquatic insects are particularly vulnerable to neonicotinoids and chronic toxicity has been observed at concentrations of IMI below 1 μg/L. Acute toxicity has been reported at concentrations below 20 μg/L for the most sensitive species, including Hyalella azteca, ostracods, and Chironomus riparius. Fish, algae, amphibians, and molluscs are relatively insensitive to IMI. However, the biological effects of THM and CLO have not been as well explored. The Canadian interim water quality guideline for IMI is 0.23 μg/L, but there is currently insufficient use, fate, and toxicological information available to establish guidelines for CLO and THM. Based on concentrations of neonicotinoids reported in surface waters in Canada and globally, there is potential for aquatic invertebrates to be negatively impacted by neonicotinoids. Therefore, it is necessary to address knowledge gaps to inform decisions around guidelines and registration status for neonicotinoid insecticides in Canada to protect our aquatic ecosystems.
Keywords: Clothianidin; Imidacloprid; Thiomethoxam; Toxicity.
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