30 Million Americans’ Drinking Water Contaminated with Herbicide

By - November 22, 2018
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US water supplies have apparently been seizing on regulatory loopholes and have been hiding high levels of toxic herbicides in drinking water in America, reveals a new paper from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The report stated that at least 30 million Americans’ drinking water has been contaminated with dangerous levels of atrazine. This is known to be an endocrine and reproductive disruptor that has been linked to a higher risk of preterm births and deformities in fetuses. Even worse, discrepancies between state and federal measurements of the herbicide contamination indicate that city and local water utilities are playing games with the regulatory system. Their goal is to avoid reporting ‘spikes’ in herbicide contamination from the higher use of herbicides during the American farming season.

Currently, EPA regulations allow water utilities to report yearly averages for drinking water contamination. It allows them to cover up spikes in herbicide-tinged run off during the farming season. This is done by averaging them with the lower levels that are common in the winter. Or, they even do not take measurements at all during growing season.

According to EWG senior science advisor Olga Naidenko, utilities are playing games with dates and numbers to cover up illegal amounts of atrazine contamination by timing when they take their measurements.

The report also determined that 70% of utilities sampled contamination outside of the higher usage levels, or reported lower levels of contamination than the EPA found.

The US allows as much as three parts per billion (PPB) of atrazine in drinking water. However, California classified the chemical as a substance that could cause toxicity to the human reproductive system two years ago. The EU banned the chemical in 2003. Since 1999, the CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has recommended lowering the legal level of the chemic to .15 PPB. This recommendation is based upon a clinical study that linked atrazine to breast cancer in mice.

EPA figures indicate that some water utilities reported an increase as much as seven times the legal limit in 2017. Evansville IL led localities with a high of 22 PPB. This was followed by Piqua OH, which increased to 16 PPB. Federal agencies are not required to report spikes to residents, even though a simple water filter can neutralize a lot of the danger from the chemical.

Atrazine is not as well known as glyphosate from Monsanto, but it is the #2 used herbicide in the United States.

In 2013, the company Syngenta settled a lawsuit on class action basis over drinking water contamination in IA, IL, OH, MO and KS. It paid out more than $100 million to cities and towns that were most affected by the chemical herbicide contamination. Up to 12 human epidemiological studies have confirmed the many negative health outcomes related to this herbicide. This includes a higher risk of preterm delivery and a lower birth weight.

EPA has shown that it is reluctant to reassess the agency’s public position on the negative effects of atrazine on public health. But public sentiment on this matter could turn fast.

More Health Dangers About Atrazine

According to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), below are the most common serious health effects that are related to exposure to this chemical:

  • Disruption of the endocrine system: The science on the effects of atrazine on the hormone system is continuing to accumulate. It has been found to alter levels of vital hormones in rats and can cause a delay in puberty. In male frogs, exposure to the chemical can cause a form of chemical castration. This can even cause them to develop female sex characteristics. Researchers at PAN think that atrazine tells testosterone to convert to estrogen, which causes the problem.
  • Reproductive effects: Atrazine may disrupt hormones, so it is not a surprise that many epidemiological studies have found various associations between exposure and serious reproductive problems, such as higher risk of miscarriage, higher male fertility, low birth weight and higher chance of birth defects of all types.
  • Cancer: Strong evidence is growing for the possible carcinogenic potential of atrazine. Exposure to the chemical has been shown to increase the risk of prostate and breast cancer. The President’s Cancel Panel Report noted that the cancer potential of the chemical is rising.

Astrazine is also found in 94% of US drinking water supplies, more than any other pesticide.

It is believed that up to seven million people were exposed to the chemical from 1998 to 2003. The most contamination generally is in the Midwest where it is used on many corn fields. USGS tests show that drinking water concentrations for the chemical usually increase during the spring and summer as regular rains flush the herbicides into nearby streams.

References

Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is Editor-in-Chief of WeedKillerCrisis. Since 1999, he's worked across a multitude of areas of consumer protection including defective products, environmental issues, identity theft, predatory lending and more.

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