Atrazine in US Drinking Water Found Widespread
A widely used pesticide known to impact wildlife development and, potentially, human health has contaminated watersheds and drinking water throughout much of the United States, according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Banned by the European Union, atrazine is the most commonly detected pesticide in U.S. waters and is a known endocrine disruptor, which means that it affects human and animal hormones. It has been tied to poor sperm quality in humans and hermaphroditic amphibians.
"Evidence shows Atrazine contamination to be a widespread and dangerous problem that has not been communicated to the people most at risk," said Jennifer Sass, PhD, NRDC Senior Scientist and an author of the report. "U.S. EPA is ignoring some very high concentrations of this pesticide in water that people are drinking and using every day. This exposure could have a considerable impact on reproductive health. Scientific research has tied this chemical to some ghastly impacts on wildlife and raises red flags for possible human impacts."
The report reveals that all of the watersheds monitored by EPA and 90% of the drinking water sampled tested positive for atrazine. Contamination was most severe in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, and Nebraska. An extensive U.S. Geological Survey study found that approximately 75 percent of stream water and about 40 percent of all groundwater samples from agricultural areas contained atrazine, and according to the New York Times, an estimated 33 million Americans have been exposed to atrazine through their drinking water systems.
"The extent of contamination we found in the data was breathtaking and alarming," said Andrew Wetzler, Director of NRDC's Wildlife Conservation Program and Deputy Director of NRDC's Midwest Program, as well as one of the report's authors. "The EPA found atrazine almost everywhere they looked. I think that the public will find this hard to swallow and I hope it will help force the EPA to address the situation more aggressively."
Figure shows locations of the areas where contamination was found.
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