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Midwest Drinking Water Samples Show More Atrazine



May 3, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa - Atrazine continues to show up where it isn't supposed to be - in drinking water, according to the Pesticide Action Network.

Rural families in Iowa and three other Midwestern states agreed to test their drinking water during the last two springs, when crops are typically being sprayed with this commonly used weed-killer. About three-quarters of the water samples contained Atrazine, although at lower levels than the limit set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

However, says Linda Wells, the network's Midwest organizer, any exposure to a chemical linked to cancer, birth defects and low birth-weight babies is too much.

"All of us drink water, and we deserve safe water here in the Midwest. If there are known carcinogens, it's the responsibility of the EPA and our public agencies to safeguard our water."

Wells' group is encouraging the EPA to look at a large body of independent research about Atrazine's health effects on people and wildlife as it reconsiders the legal limit for drinking water, which is now three parts per billion.

"The main thing we need to see is people speaking up and talking to both EPA, about reviewing their science on Atrazine, and also state officials in each of these states can take steps to monitor and safeguard drinking water."

Syngenta, the company that sells Atrazine, says the current EPA standard is safe and that conscientious farming practices, such as planting buffer zones between streams and fields, will reduce the chance of water contamination.

Atrazine has been banned in Europe since 2003, and a 2010 U.S. government study found the chemical in 75 percent of stream water and almost 40 percent of groundwater samples taken in agricultural areas.

The EPA meets again in mid-June to discuss reassessing Atrazine risks. The notice and comment-period information for that meeting is online at federalregister.gov.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - IA