The U.S. EPA has recommended reducing the allowable levels of Atrazine used in nearly 100 herbicide mixes as a result of its recently issued draft ecological risk assessment of Atrazine. Public comments will be accepted through October 5, 2016.
While farmers across America are concerned that this reduction in allowable levels of Atrazine would increase the cost of production and reduce yields of crops typically using this herbicide, environmentalists are cheering the pending change.
Even low levels of Atrazine have been linked to birth defects and cancer which has caused cities to spend millions of dollars in additional sanitary systems equipment in an attempt to filter out the herbicide. Drinking water in individual residential wells has also been contaminated by this herbicide, and like many chemicals, atrazine doesn’t break down easily in water or soil.
Streams have carried the chemical to other waterways and wetlands which are affecting wildlife. Testing has shown that frogs, birds, fish as well as people have developed a variety of health problems linked to Atrazine’s toxicity including cardiovascular and reproductive defects. Over time, even small amounts of Atrazine or its metabolites build up in the body and cause health problems much like many of the other herbicides already regulated by the EPA.
In the research I’ve done to prepare this post, little mention is made of biodiversity. Non-aquatic non-weed plants and animals have been affected by this herbicide not only by direct application, but also by spray drift. This means native plants, pollinators, mycorrhizae — all the elements of biodiversity which are so integral to the make-up of the habitat that supports all wildlife, including humans, are likely affected as well.
Here are some additional facts in which you might be interested:
- About 70 million pounds of Atrazine are used in the United States each year.
- Approximately 200 different products containing Atrazine are now approved for use on farms.
- Atrazine, the second-most widely used pesticide in the US was banned in Europe 12 years ago.
- Sweden has reduced pesticide use by 68% which has resulted in 77% reduction in public pesticide poisonings.
- The last EPA analysis of Atrazine was in 2003.
If you have thoughts about lowering the levels or banning the use of herbicides containing Atrazine, submit your comments now during the registration review process. See docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0794 and comment by one of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.
- Mail: OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.