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Water Management Associations
Hydrologists Blame Toxin Used to Kill Fish for Parkinson's Diagnoses
It was well after dark on Dec. 2, 2009, when a team of government workers, wearing thick gloves and respiratory masks, began to pour 2,200 gallons of milky white liquid into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in Illinois.

Ryan Jackson, then 34, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, watched the work begin from the shore, before readying his own boat with a colleague, Kevin Johnson, and heading out onto the water. The men were tasked with tracing the chemical’s path by injecting a pink fluorescent dye into the water where the translucent toxin would be.

They were told the chemical, known as rotenone, was not toxic to humans, only to fish. They were told protective clothing was not necessary.

Before dawn, the bodies of tens of thousands of fish flapped at the water’s surface, convulsing violently before growing lifeless. They blanketed the canal like thick, silver algae, and marked one of the largest fish kills in U.S history.

Within a couple years of working with the chemical, both men have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

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