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Daily News Blog

28
Jun

Take Action: Tell EPA to Ban ALL Triazine Herbicides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2021) The endocrine disrupting herbicide propazine (in the triazine family of frog-deforming endocrine disruptors) is set for cancellation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The move would eliminate use of the hazardous herbicide by the end of 2022. However, all pesticides in the triazine class, including atrazine and simazine, have similar properties and should be eliminated from use.

Tell EPA to finish the job by banning all triazines.

In November 2020, Beyond Pesticides and allied environmental groups launched a lawsuit against EPA for its intent to reregister the triazine family of chemicals. The agency’s interim approval of the herbicides, conducted under the Trump administration, eliminates important safeguards for children’s health and a monitoring programs intended to protect groundwater from contamination. As is typical with EPA, the agency merely proposed minor label changes in attempts to mitigate risks identified in its registration review. According to a release from EPA, it made the decision not out of concerns relating to human health and environmental protection, but in order to provide “regulatory certainty” for farmers and local officials.

In March 2021, the Biden administration requested a stay on the atrazine lawsuit brought by environmental groups, as it indicated it would review the Trump administration’s actions on the chemicals. “It is possible that, in response to this review, EPA may undertake actions that could resolve some or all of the issues in this case,” EPA said in its motion to stay, Progressive Farmer reports.

If propazine’s cancellation is the extent of the Biden administration’s corrective actions after the Trump administration’s complete abdication of responsibility to human health and environmental protection, then it is not enough. With greenhouse uses already in the process of cancellation, propazine’s remaining use is on sorghum. Although a hefty 200,000 lbs. of propazine are used each year, mainly in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, this amount pales in comparison to the over 70 million lbs. of atrazine used throughout the United States.

Under an Endangered Species Act review, initiated by EPA only after a lawsuit from health and environmental groups, the triazine chemicals were found to adversely affect a range of species. Propazine was found to harm 64 endangered species, while simazine and atrazine were both likely to harm over 50% of all endangered species and 40% of their critical habitats.

EPA has long known about triazine’s threats to wildlife, including its ability to chemically castrate male frogs. However, the agency has consistently defended the chemical, and                         sat by while independent researchers like Tyrone Hayes, PhD, who conducted seminal research on atrazine’s endocrine disrupting properties, are pilloried by chemical industry propaganda. In a Critical Perspectives piece published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry last month, Jason Rohr, PhD, provides an in-depth investigation of the atrazine controversy.

“I argue that the atrazine controversy must be more than just a true story of cover-ups, bias, and vengeance,” he writes in the piece. “It must be used as an example of how manufacturing uncertainty and bending science can be exploited to delay undesired regulatory decisions and how greed and conflicts of interest—situations where personal or organizational considerations have compromised or biased professional judgment and objectivity—can affect environmental and public health and erode trust in the discipline of toxicology, science in general, and the honorable functioning of societies.”

The triazine class of chemicals also pose significant threats to human health and are particularly concerning in the context of the range of chemicals one may be exposed to in today’s world. As Dr. Hayes noted a recent presentation at Beyond Pesticides’ National Pesticide Forum, “Children in utero may be exposed to over 300 synthetic chemicals before they leave the womb… I would argue that a human fetus trapped in contaminated amniotic fluid is no different than one of my tadpoles trapped in a contaminated pond.”

Atrazine has been linked to a range of adverse birth outcomes, including smaller body sizes, slower growth rates, and certain deformities like choanal atresia (where nasal passages are blocked at birth), and hypospadias (where the opening of a male’s urethra is not located at the tip of the penis).

While industry consistently lines up local Congressmembers, former EPA officials, and agrichemical lobbyists to pressure EPA to keep triazines in the market, there is no evidence that the herbicides benefit the farmers these officials claim to represent. According to research published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, banning atrazine would provide an economic benefit to farmers. “The winners,” the research concludes, “in an atrazine free future would include farm workers, farmers and their families, and others who are exposed to atrazine either directly from field uses or indirectly from contaminated tap water along with natural ecosystem that are currently damaged by atrazine.”

During the Obama Administration, health and environmental advocates were on the defensive with propazine. After glyphosate-resistant crops predictably invaded genetically engineered cotton fields in Texas, growers requested propazine use on over 3 million acres of farm fields. Although EPA determined Texan farmers met the criteria for an emergency, a decision Beyond Pesticides disagreed with, the agency did find that groundwater risks from the proposed propazine use would be too risky. 

For more information on the dangers of atrazine and its chemical cousins, read Beyond Pesticides comments to EPA, and watch Dr. Tyrone Hayes presentations from former National Pesticide Forum events on Youtube.

Tell EPA to finish the job by banning all triazines.

Letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan

I am pleased to hear that EPA has cancelled the registration of propazine herbicides. However, the proposed interim decisions (PIDs) on reregistration of atrazine and simazine demonstrate similar risks. These triazines are highly mobile and persistent in the environment and have been linked to numerous adverse health and environmental effects that have motivated many public interest campaigns to ban their use in the U.S. as well as in Europe. The Draft Ecological Risk Assessments for the Registration Review of Atrazine, Simazine, and Propazine dated October 5, 2016 found high risks that were supported by EPA’s assessments.

EPA’s Proposed Interim Decisions present data demonstrating unreasonable adverse effects. These hazards are unacceptable, especially in light of the availability of nontoxic alternatives. The hazards include:

* The technical mechanism of toxicity is perturbation of the neuroendocrine system by disrupting hypothalamic regulation of the pituitary, leading primarily to a disturbance in the ovulatory surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), which results in both reproductive and developmental alterations. Of the numerous adverse effects associated with this disruption, the two that appear to be the most sensitive and occur after the shortest duration (4 days) of exposure are the disruption of the ovarian cycles and the delays in puberty onset.

* Despite these endocrine disrupting effects, the PIDs propose reducing the margin of safety and underestimate exposure to children.

* EPA states, “Based on the results from hundreds of toxicity studies on the effects of atrazine on plants and animals, over 20 years of surface water monitoring data, and higher tier aquatic exposure models, this risk assessment concludes that aquatic plant communities are impacted in many areas where atrazine use is heaviest, and there is potential chronic risk to fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates in these same locations.”

* In spite of these findings, EPA will increase the level of atrazine allowed in waterways.

Please adhere to the statutory mandate of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and suspend the registration of these pesticides that pose unreasonable adverse health and environmental effects.

Thank you.

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2 Responses to “Take Action: Tell EPA to Ban ALL Triazine Herbicides”

  1. 1
    pam mort Says:

    Stop using toxic pesticide

  2. 2
    robert moeller Says:

    It’s a matter of life.

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