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Midwest Drinking Water Samples Show More Atrazine

May 21, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. - Atrazine continues to show up where it isn't supposed to be - in drinking water - according to the Pesticide Action Network. Rural families in four Midwestern states (Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska) 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 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

However, according to Linda Wells, Midwest organizer with the Pesticide Action Network, any exposure to a chemical linked to cancer, birth defects and low-birthweight 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 talking to state officials in each of these states. They 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. A 2010 U.S. government study found the chemical in 75 percent of stream water and almost 40 percent of all 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 the next EPA meeting about Atrazine is available at http://1.usa.gov/JOdeG5.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND