According to a video report by Global News, farmers across the US have been using atrazine, a toxic herbicide, extensively to control weeds in corn fields and other agricultural row crops for over 50 years now. This widespread use has allowed atrazine to leach through soils to contaminate groundwater systems or enter surface water systems through runoff, ultimately winding up in drinking water, where it is now a common drinking water contaminant.
According to Tyrone Hayes, a University of California Berkeley scientist: “Atrazine is the number one contaminant found in drinking water in the U.S. and probably globally.”
Due to its known health effects, which after long term exposure include cardiovascular and reproductive problems, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the drinking water standard for atrazine to 0.003 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or three parts per billion (ppb).
The levels of atrazine in drinking water differ depending on where you are in the country and also according to seasonal fluctuations. In regions where corn is extensively grown, the use of atrazine tends to be more widespread, and thus there is potentially higher concentrations of the toxin present in runoff.
Atrazine was removed from the European market in 2004 due to health concerns, yet in the US and Canada it is still one of the most common pesticides found in underground and surface water systems. In 2012, Syngenta, the company that manufactures atrazine, paid a $105 million court settlement to over 1000 US municipal water treatment facilities to help foot the bill for removing atrazine from municipal drinking water supplies.
Health Effects of Atrazine
According to Jason Rohr, a professor at the University of South Florida: “Atrazine is probably the most well studied pesticide on the planet, perhaps only rivaled by DDT.”
Yet, while there have been extensive studies conducted on the effect of atrazine on amphibians and other wildlife, very little information in available on the effects of atrazine to human health. However, studies have shown a possible link between atrazine exposure and breast, ovarian and prostrate cancers; as well as low fertility and birth defects.
Removing Atrazine from Drinking Water
If you are concerned that your water is contaminated with atrazine, you can check with your water utility to ascertain whether they monitor for atrazine, and how regularly do they test the water supply. To make certain that you and your family are not exposed to atrazine and other common drinking water contaminants, you can purchase a good quality home water filter like the berkeys equipped with the black berkey filters. The black berkeys are capable of removing atrazine and other commonly used pesticides from the water to below detectable limits.
Watch the video 'Pesticide Peril?' to learn more about the serious perils of pesticides on our health.