Update on the Egg Laying Mystery: Tested the Water

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by iamcuriositycat, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Charlotte, NC
    Background: My birds (Runner ducks and Japanese (coturnix) quail) haven't been laying for eight months. None of the usual causes are present. I came here, asked advice, and someone (thank you) suggested that I test the water. Ordered tests, they came today.

    The good news is there is no lead, chlorine, bacteria, nitrites, or any of several other baddies.

    The bad news is that there were high levels of pesticides. The test says it looks for atrazine and simazine, but does not distinguish between the two.

    So I did a little sleuthing, and found a study from the EPA on the effects of simazine on wild birds. Happily, it studied both mallards and Japanese quail, and came to the same conclusion for both:


    "The primary reproductive effect of simazine
    on avian reproduction appears to be reduction in the number of eggs laid. The number of
    eggs laid was reduced by 20% at the highest treatment level of 500 ppm. Adverse
    reproductive effects increased by approximately 13% at the embryo viability stage and
    remained constant throughout the study, also affecting the number hatched and survival
    of 14-day chicks."

    Now. My birds have had their laying suppressed by more than 20%, but I suspect the study in question did not follow the birds over the course of several years. My poor girls have had this stuff building up in their systems their whole lives, even before they hatched, assuming the pesticides have been present throughout.

    So. Next step... I plan to also test the water inside our house to see if the result is the same. And I want to find out for sure whether it's simazine or atrazine. Atrazine doesn't appear to suppress laying, though it is an endocrine disruptor. However, it is sometimes used in commercial operations to *increase* egg laying, so I'm preliminarily ruling it out as a cause. However, further tests should narrow it down more thoroughly.

    Then what? How do I have them removed? A whole-house filter? Whew. Thoughts?

    (And, by the way, how cool that my birds have provided this service for our family. We would never have tested the water like this if we hadn't had this "early warning signal" from our birds. One thing is for sure: I plan to make sure our drinking water is not contaminated now!)
     
  2. Tahai

    Tahai Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would start with your extension office about how to remove it. Also, I might rove around on your state's environmental department's website. They may have info on pesticide runoff in ponds. Your state may also have regulations about acceptable amounts.
     
  3. Tahai

    Tahai Chillin' With My Peeps

    by the way, it is wonderful you got results back so quickly. we have a 2-3 week turn-around here.
     
  4. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Charlotte, NC
    It was a home test. I'm trying to figure out how to verify the results and also how to determine *which* pesticide. I'll try the extension office again, but I always have the worst time locating the right person to help me, and have never had much of use from them.

    Sigh. A part of me is glad to have found a potential cause--maybe my girls will start laying again in a few months if I'm able to fix this. And another part is thinking, "Great--I really needed one more thing to hassle with." Oh well. I'll keep ya'll updated. Thanks for the input!
     
  5. Tivona

    Tivona Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry that its such bad news but its great that you at least found out. Your plan on finding out for sure which one is very good. Once you know which one it is then you can choose a filter that will work for you. Some filters might be great on one thing but not do much on anything on another chemical. I believe that the simazine can be filtered out with activate carbon but that the atrazine needs a reverse osmosis system, but you need to check yourself. The reverse osmosis systems are expensive so be prepared if that is what you need.

    I would suggest that you switch to bottled water for your drinking for your health. Buying water until you know what filter type you need and can get. Some stores here have a vending machine that is a reverse osmosis water filter/carbon/particulate. It sells for 35 cents per gallon but you have to bring your own containers. It is definitely the cheapest I know of here if I had to buy. Your town might have something similar otherwise its buying in jugs or bottles which would cost more.

    Scary situation, been there myself. I got exposed to a great deal of pesticide when I was a baby and it really hurt my health. :( I hope you and your animals get better and stay safe.
     
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Charlotte, NC
    Found it--the EPA site says that activated charcoal filtration removes the pesticide. I just ordered a new filter for our fridge water (needed to do that anyway) for our drinking water, and an in-line filter for use with the hose outside. If it turns out our indoor water also has contamination, I'll see about adding a filter on our kitchen faucet as well.

    I also ordered a couple extra tests so I can test the water after filtration is installed. Again, I'll keep ya'll updated. Maybe I'll start getting eggs again in a few months. Fingers crossed!
     
  7. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Charlotte, NC
    Oh, hi, Tivona! We were posting at the same time. Thank you for your excellent feedback. I haven't been able to figure out how I would test to see which pesticide it is--all the tests I can find seem to test for both, without distinguishing. Since I've already ordered the charcoal filters, I'll do a test after installing the filters and I guess if I still have a problem, then I'll know I need reverse osmosis as well.

    It is good to know. I hope we haven't done too much damage to our children's systems. :( We do drink mostly filtered water out of the fridge, so I hope that will have ameliorated most of the problem for us. My poor birds & goats, though, drinking that stuff!! Yikes. :( I wonder where it's coming from... we're on city water, for goodness sake!

    This is a crazy world we live in, but it always has been. Glad I've found out and can take measures now. I'll definitely switch the kids to bottled until the filters & new tests arrive. Thanks for the thoughts & ideas!
     
  8. Tivona

    Tivona Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If your on city water you could try talking to the water department. Have your test results handy when you do so you don't sound like your just guessing or imagining. We had a problem with our water here with a bad smell for almost a month (very bleachy). We called them up and asked what might cause it, etc. They were very helpful and sent a person out to check our water free of charge as part of the services they offer. They did some testing and found a higher percentage of chloramines in our water probably stirred up by the areas pipes being flushed. It cleared up shortly after the pipe flushing past our road. Anyway I am not sure what services they offer in your area but perhaps because it is city water they might be able to give you some help or perhaps info at least.
     
  9. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Thank you! I'll call the city about it in the morning. We've had baaaaaa--aaaad experiences with our city water in the past (slow service, reluctance to address complaints, etc.) but maybe this will be different. I'll definitely hang on to my results.

    Of course, I don't know yet whether it's in our tap water or just our hose water... but if they'll come out and test it, that would be great. Thanks for the tip!
     
  10. Tivona

    Tivona Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So I was thinking about all of this. There is something called backflow. When a pipe has a crack or is fitted but not completely sealed when the pressure fluctuates (as we turn on and off the water or even the others on the line before us) the pipe can actually suck in stuff from the spot then when the pressure returns send the now contaminated water down the line. I have no idea on your terrain or how old your pipes are, etc. but the two herbicides you mentioned could be sucked into your pipes through backflow. Either on your own property or possibly further up the pipe line. Any chance that you have pipes where you or previous owners/tenants might have used the herbicides? If it is on your property then perhaps a plumber could find the line and reroute? And if its before your property then I would think that the water department would have to fix the problem. But the water would have to be tested at the road/meter I think. As I understand it both of those have an upper limit with the EPA for the water department.
    Also I checked the two herbicides and I found conflicting info for the atrazine needing the reverse osmosis. One said it did and the other said carbon would work. [​IMG] I hope the carbon works for you. It is defiantly a cheaper type of filter media.
     

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