Pesticide traces found in snow on high mountains in national parks

Snowfall in high-elevation parks in the Western U.S. is not, um, pure as the driven snow. A recent study found traces of agricultural pesticides in the snowfall at six national parks studied: Sequoia (California), Mount Rainier (Washington), Rocky Mountain (Colorado), Glacier (Montana), Denali (Alaska), and Gates of the Arctic (Alaska). Concentrations of the pesticides, including some that have been banned in the U.S. but (obviously) persist in the environment, generally correlate to regional farm practices, except for the contamination found in the Alaskan parks, which the researchers concluded likely originated elsewhere. “We thought these areas were pristine, and they’re not,” said a biologist from Mount Rainier National Park. Scientists intend to study the effects on wildlife and plants; they say there’s no immediate risk to humans. After all, urban dwellers likely are exposed to much stronger toxic concentrations in their daily tailpipe-sucking routine. Comforting.