High levels of toxic pesticide found in parts of River Stour

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Concerns have been raised after record levels of toxic pesticides – up to 100 times the limit for EU drinking water – were found in the River Stour.

The Environment Agency, which tests the river weekly at 13 sites, discovered a rise in the amount of metaldehyde – a chemical found in slug pellets – in the River Stour and Colne catchment area.

The chemical was found at all the catchment area’s courses from September to March, with a record level of 10 microgrammes per litre recorded in November at Langham water treatment works intake. The EU standard for drinking water is 0.1 microgrammes per litre.

Robert Lindsay, a Bildeston councillor and Babergh Green Party member, said: “The EU has set high standards because nobody knows what harm these toxins will do if they build up in river ecosystems or in the bodies of fish.”

The Environment Agency says no harm should come to wildlife due to the rise, but urged farmers to minimise slug pellet use this autumn to lower pesticide levels.