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Neuroscience For Kids

Asian Carp Killed with Rotenone
December 2, 2009

The Asian carp is a large, invasive fish that has made its way up the Mississippi River and Illinois River to threaten the ecosystem of the Great Lakes. On December 2, 2009, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced plans to use the chemical rotenone to kill Asian carp and prevent this fish from entering the Great Lakes.

Rotenone has been used for many years as a pesticide and insecticide. The World Health Organization classifies rotenone as "moderately hazardous" and the US EPA categorizes lower concentrations of rotenone as III ("caution") and other formulations as I ("Danger-Poison"). Rotenone works by interfering with the electron-transport system in the mitochondria of cells. Interestingly, rats that are given rotenone develop neurological symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease including the loss of neurons that use the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Rotenone is extremely toxic to fish and but it is destroyed within a few days after it is exposed to sunlight.

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