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EPA Considers Ban on Pesticide that Can Turn Male Frogs Into Females

November 29, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a ban on a chemical pesticide scientists say is capable of turning one male frog in ten into a female and is otherwise destructive to amphibians. Atrazine, which is used primarily on corn and sugar cane crops, is the most commonly-detected pesticide in American groundwater.

Dr. Kerry Kriger, founder and executive director of Save The Frogs, says more than a half-million pounds of the chemical return to the earth each year in rain and snow after it's caught in the airstream following spraying.

"So, it's in our rainwater, stream water, tap water. It's sprayed on our foods; so yes, we want a complete ban on it. There's an abundant amount of scientific literature showing its harmful effects on a variety of wildlife and humans."

Atrazine was banned in the European Union in 2004, but U.S. authorities say the chemical is safe for consumers and allows three parts per billion in drinking water.

The herbicide is widely used in Indiana by corn growers.

A UC Berkeley study concluded Atrazine is a likely contributor to worldwide declines in populations of amphibians such as frogs and toads. As a result of recent studies, the EPA is reviewing its regulations of the pesticide.

Kriger says the chemical has been linked to reproductive defects in fish, cancer in laboratory rodents, and wreaks havoc on frog populations.

"It causes immunosuppression, hermaphroditism and even complete sex reversal of male frogs at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion, which is below the legal limit."

The California-based Save The Frogs group and other activists gathered at the steps of the EPA's headquarters in Washington earlier this year to raise awareness of the disappearance of amphibians and to call for a federal ban on Atrazine.

More information on Atrazine is at

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN