"Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health. The diseases we're beginning to see as the major causes of death in the latter part of this century and into the 21st century are diseases of chemical origin."  Dick Irwin, toxicologist at Texas A&M Universities.

How cool are these mini beasts! The come in amazing colours, shapes and sizes. 

They are tiny little miracle machines that wouldn't be out of place in any sci-fi film. What’s more, they all help the garden in so many ways and the children will love them so please don't kill them!

Slug pellets and pesticides kill slugs and insects. That’s because they are poisonous. 

These insects and slugs do not eat to annoy you, they eat to survive. Any poison ensures a painful and slow death. The poison can be passed onto larger animals that eat them and when they die that poison will end up in our water table. 

Whilst that may sound extreme, it is not.

We must protect our planet and maintain the natural balance. We can still progress but must strive to find greener solutions to everyday issues. If we all do just that little extra everyday, we can work towards a greener planet together.


Many of our most precious native creatures feed off these cute beasts so why not encourage them to frequent your garden and help balance our environment.



Conservative pollutants are not metabolised (broken down inside an organism) and therefore when an organism containing a pollutant is eaten, the pollutants are simply passed on to the predator and accumulate in its tissues. By consuming many prey, an organism may build up very high concentrations of the pollutant in its tissues. This process may continue up the food chain, leaving the top predator with very high and sometimes lethal concentrations of the pollutant.

Organisms may ingest or absorb more than one pollutant at a time. Two pollutants may interact to produce a toxic effect which is greater than the combined effect of the two pollutants simply added together i.e. one of the pollutants may increase the mortality caused by the other. This is called synergism. High concentrations of lead, zinc and mercury are each capable of slightly reducing the growth rate of aquatic protozoa, but when acting together the overall effect is much higher. 


Organochlorines are hydrophobic (water-hating) and show low solubility in water, but are readily soluble in fat (lipophilic). Consequently, they will often accumulate in the fatty (adipose) tissue of an organism. In the past, organochlorines have been widely used as pesticides. 

They have two important characteristics:

1. They are chemically stable and remain active in the environment for many years.

2. They are fat-soluble and readily concentrate in adipose tissue. Whilst there, even high concentrations may cause little if any harm.

However, in times of food shortage, fat reserves may be metabolised, releasing the pesticide into the blood of the organism. This may be fatal.


Our Otters

Otters declined rapidly in the UK after the 1950’s. The use of pesticides were greatly increased at this time especially aldrin and dieldrin. These pesticides were then washed off the land into rivers etc. and contaminated fish with tiny amounts of poison. Even though the fish may not affect the otter in the first instance, the poison gradually accumulates in an otter eating a lot of fish, resulting in its death. Although most of these pesticides have been restricted since 1962, otter numbers have not increased a great deal since.


Clear Lake

California was a popular resort for bathers and anglers but also a breeding ground for a non-biting midge. In 1949, DDD - a close relative of DDT - was used as an insecticide to kill the midges. The volume of the lake was calculated and one part of DDD was added to 70 million parts of water. 99% of the midges were killed, but over the next few years numbers began to rise again. In 1954, the spraying was repeated at a slightly higher concentration which killed most of the midges. However, following this application over a hundred of the Western Grebes which nested on the lake were found dead. Following a third treatment in 1957, more Western Grebes were found dead. There was no evidence of infectious disease, but the fatty tissue of the birds showed the amount of DDD averaged 1600mg per kg of fat; a bio magnification factor of 114,000 compared to the DDD in the water. During this time, the anglers had been eating their catches. Although the authorities believed that the DDD posed no health risk to humans, in 1959 they banned any further spraying. 

Since then, it has been discovered that DDD strongly suppresses the normal function of the human adrenal cortex. 

Population Decline of the Sparrow Hawk 

Around 1960, the sparrow hawk population decreased dramatically throughout Britain and this was attributed to the use of organochlorine pesticides which contaminated its prey. 

A major reason for this decline was that the birds began to lay eggs with extremely thin shells which then broke before hatching. At this time, scientists had little idea of why this was happening, but we now know that once inside the body of the sparrow hawk, DDD was metabolised to DDE which, as usual, concentrated in fatty tissues including the egg yolk. DDE inhibits the action of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase which regulates the deposition of calcium in the egg shells. High concentrations of DDE would therefore result in thin-shelled and easily-broken eggs. 

Although DDE was present at sub lethal levels (i.e. insufficient to kill the adult birds) it could still contribute to the population decline. The population decline was, however, more rapid than can be explained by reduced breeding success alone. It is now thought that the high rate of mortality was a result of a synergistic action between DDD and some other organochlorines such as Aldrin and Dieldrin. 

The introduction of organochlorines in the late 1950s had similar effects on the number of kestrels, peregrine falcons and other raptors in Britain. The population of these birds has increased in size between 1963 to 1986 due to successive reductions in the use of such hazardous pesticides.



In freshwater, inorganic mercury is transformed by micro organisms into highly toxic methylated mercury. This compound rapidly accumulates in plants, invertebrates and fish then bio magnifies along the food chain. 

Mercury has always been known to be harmful, but the full extent of this danger was brought home by the epidemic of poisoning at Minamata Bay in Japan in the 1950s. 

From 1952, the only local industry discharged mercury-containing effluent directly into the bay. One of the compounds concerned - methyl mercury - acts as a cumulative poison causing delirium, loss of motor control and irreversible brain damage. 

The first case of "Minamata disease" - as it came to be known - appeared among fishermen in 1953; a link was made with consumption of seafood by 1956. A partial ban of fishing was in place by the next year, but discharge of mercury into the bay continued for another 11 years. Eventually 107 people died of Minamata disease and at least another 700 were left permanently disabled.

Other concerns are 

. Studies show that the growth of young birds can be stunted in areas where insecticides have been used heavily. 

. Developmental and behavioural effects in various animal species.

. Associated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

. Reproductive and endocrine disruptions. 

. Associated with a cancer in dogs (canine malignant lymphoma). 

. Increased number of abnormal sperm in exposed farmers. 

. Decreased fertility in male rats.

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