Altrazine: Coming to a US water supply near you
Author: Sara Hilbert
Atrazine is a pesticide for control of broadleaf and grassy weeds. It has been recognized by the Environment Protection Agency as possibly being, “…found in some public or private drinking water.” In the very same fact sheet this widely used pesticide was further listed as a risk that, “May cause health problems.”
Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council said “Several European countries have banned Atrazine and that it should be prohibited in the United States. We know it accuses irreparable harm to exposed wildlife, it’s a potential threat to human life, and it’s in our water at unacceptable levels.” Surprisingly this statement was made during a long battle between the EPA and environmental groups in 2003. Unfortunately, after hearing the reports, the EPA concluded to keep the product on the market, merely promising to step up monitoring on surface water supplies.
This product is still as harmful as it was years ago and truly is an example of where the EPA is failing the American people once again. Representative Keith Ellison understands this and is fiercely fighting for the complete removal of Atrazine off the market. He is the chief sponsor of H.R.3399, a bill “To prohibit the use, production, sale, importation, or exportation of any pesticide containing Atrazine.” The EPA has found Atrazine to potentially cause short-term effects when exposed to levels above Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL is 3ppb): congestion of heart, lungs, and kidneys; low blood pressure; muscle spasm; weight loss; damage to adrenal glands. Long-term effects can be weight loss, cardiovascular damage, cancer, retinal and some muscle degeneration.
Atrazine is a dangerous chemical. However, the EPA only asked water suppliers to collect water supplies every three months for a year to find out if Atrazine is present above 1ppb. If it is higher, they will continue to monitor and treat the water. If low or no presence of Atrazine is found they discontinue monitoring for the pesticide. According to Stephen L. Johnson, the EPA’s assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides and toxic substance, 8 out of 200 US water systems have Atrazine levels significantly above the legal limit. Two water systems in Missouri, two in Kentucky, and various sites in Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana and Iowa are currently involved.
If you are in one of these areas, you should learn more about how your water is treated. Contact your state’s Department of Health and Environment for more information.