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Daily News Blog

06
Dec

Endocrine Disrupting Herbicide, Atrazine, Exceeds Legal Limits in Midwest

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2018) A recent analysis of annual drinking water quality reports has revealed that many community drinking water systems in the Midwest have seasonal exceedances of the allowable limit for the herbicide atrazine. Atrazine, linked to endocrine disruption, neuropathy, and cancer, is the second most widely used pesticide in corn growing areas, with over 73 million pounds applied to agricultural fields each year.  A 2009 study by Paul Winchester, MD, professor of clinical pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and a neonatologist at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, linked birth defects to time of conception, with the greatest impact on children conceived when concentrations of atrazine and other pesticides are highest in the local drinking water. (See Reproductive Effects Peak with Pesticide Exposure.)

During peak use, atrazine levels in drinking water have been recorded at three to seven times above the legal limit. In addition to the well documented impact on the environment, recent  studies have linked prolonged pesticide exposure to not only shortened gestation and preterm birth for women, but also neurodevelopment delays in children. Ultimately, these unreported seasonal peaks may result in persistent adverse health impacts in impacted communities.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), enacted in 1974, was developed with the mission to ensure the quality of the nation’s drinking water. This statute authorized EPA to set national drinking water standards in order to protect citizens against the health effects of harmful contaminant exposure. Unfortunately, while SDWA requires utilities to frequently test drinking water (hourly, monthly, quarterly, and annually, depending on the location and size of the public water system), the statute only requires compliance testing once a year. SDWA requires water utilities to report annual averages of testing for chemicals and pesticides.  The summary of this annual testing is then compiled and released within its Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to its customers. This is problematic since many pesticides are used seasonally resulting in seasonal spikes over established legal limits and the impacted communities are not notified during the time of exposure.  Instead these peaks are buried under scores of data collected.

Water utilities are familiar with persistent pollution from atrazine application. In 2012, water utilities settled a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer of atrazine, Syngenta, to clean up atrazine contamination of its treated water. Even at levels established as “safe” or acceptable by EPA drinking water standards, atrazine is linked to endocrine disrupting effects. EPA is not adequately assessing the effects of atrazine by using high dose testing models, which are not appropriate for hormonally-active substances that often show effects at minute doses of endocrine disruptors. Studies by Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, and others have shown that concentrations as little as 0.1ppb interferes with mammary gland development in the breast of mammals and is linked to certain birth defects like gastroschisis and choanal atresia, which are significantly increased for pregnant women with high levels of atrazine exposure in agricultural areas and from urban streams.

The European Union and many countries have banned atrazine, however EPA continues to put U.S. citizens and the environment in harm’s way, allowing nonstop use of this toxic chemical.

The evidence is clear. Not only does atrazine adversely affect human and environmental health, but both regulatory agencies and water utilities are failing to ensure that the drinking water distributed is devoid of hazardous chemicals and pesticides. SDWA must be updated to require water quality data information and notification on seasonal spikes of hazardous chemicals like atrazine when it occurs. To allow for delays and inaction jeopardizes both human and ecological health.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Environmental Working Group

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2 Responses to “Endocrine Disrupting Herbicide, Atrazine, Exceeds Legal Limits in Midwest”

  1. 1
    Sally Stephens Says:

    When you are ready, I am willing to testify against them for causing my son to be born with Gastroschesis. I demand justice for my son and other victims of their poison as well.

  2. 2
    Rebecca Slaton Says:

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2017 and the following month had a mastectomy. My cancer was exacerbated by estrogen and it’s precursors. Atrizine is used extensively in my area and the only thing that will remove hormone disruptors from my drinking water is reverse osmosis. I am on oral chemo that is supposed to prevent my body from producing any estrogen but I am unable to get ANY agency or individual I have spoken with to run a water test of our town’s drinking water for hormones. Meanwhile Estrogen receptive breast cancer is on an upswing here. I don’t think that I am asking too much for the water to be tested. Even taking the drugs I do, it’s like peeing in a fan if I’m actually putting estrogen and it’s precursors in my body by using my city’s tap water. Any ideas?

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  • Archives

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    • ALS (2)
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