(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2011) In recognition of the 3rd annual Save the Frogs Day, a “Save the Frogs/Ban Atrazine Rally” will be held tomorrow, Friday, April 29th in Washington, DC. The rally will take place at the steps of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW), and is intended to raise awareness of the rapid disappearance of frog species worldwide, and bring attention to the harmful effects of the endocrine disrupting herbicide atrazine.
Amphibian populations worldwide have been declining at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Up to 200 species have completely disappeared in recent years. Amphibians are faced with an onslaught of environmental problems, including climate change, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades. Numerous studies have definitively linked pesticide use with significant effects on amphibians. Pesticides can cause abnormalities, diseases, injury and death in these frogs and other amphibians. Because amphibians breathe through their permeable skin, they are especially vulnerable to chemical contamination. Frog eggs float exposed on the water surface, where pesticides tend to concentrate, and hatched larvae live solely in aquatic environments for five to seven months before they metamorphose, so agricultural pesticides introduced into wetlands, ponds and streams are particularly harmful. Many of the pesticides that pose a threat to the frog are also known to be harmful to human health.
Atrazine is currently being reviewed by EPA after several scientific reports have emerged linking it to immunosuppression and hermaphroditism in frogs. A recent study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley showed that atrazine acts as an endocrine disruptor and can cause complete sex reversal in male frogs at 2.5 parts per billion. Atrazine was banned in the European Union in 2004, but eighty million pounds of it are used in America each year, primarily on corn.
“Atrazine is the 21st century’s DDT” says Kerry Kriger, PhD, founder of Save the Frogs. Dr. Kriger will be leading the Save the Frogs Day Rally and will provide the keynote presentation later that afternoon at Lafayette Plaza across from the White House. Dr. Kriger hopes the rally will bring attention to the problems associated with atrazine, and lead to a federal ban on its use and production. “Once Americans know about atrazine, there will be overwhelming support for a ban. If people are uninformed and unconcerned, Syngenta’s lobbying power will be difficult to overcome”, says Dr. Kriger. Atrazine is produced by Syngenta, the world’s largest pesticide company. Syngenta, based in Switzerland — where the chemical is illegal — reported over $11 billion in revenues in 2010.
In related news, researchers at the University of South Florida have discovered that the most widely used fungicide in the U.S., chlorothalonil, is lethal to frogs even at low doses. Chemical pollution, according to the researchers, is considered the second greatest threat to aquatic and amphibious species in the U.S. Because many vital systems of amphibians are similar to those in humans, researchers believe that amphibians may be an underused model for studying the impacts of chemicals in the environment on human health and set out to quantify amphibian responses to chlorothalonil. The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives and opens the door for researchers to quantify the effects of the chemical on other species as well as other toxic pesticides on amphibian populations and human health.
What: Save The Frogs Day Rally. Speakers include Kerry Kriger, PhD (executive director, Save the Forgs) and Tyrone Hayes, PhD (professor, University of California, Berkeley).
Where: EPA Headquarters (1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington DC). Afterward, rally attendees will March to Lafayette Plaza, across from the White House.
When: Friday April 29th, 11am — 1pm rally, followed by a 2pm presentation in Lafayette Plaza
More info: www.savethefrogs.com/dc