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  • Atrazine Fingered as Number One Drinking Water Contaminant in the US

    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.

  • Widely Used Atrazine in Our Water Linked to Reproductive Problems

    Atrazine, one of the most widely used weed-killers in the United States and more than 60 other nations, causes reproductive problems in a variety of animal species including amphibians, fish, reptiles and mammals, according to new study in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Animals and people far from the fields should be concerned about this scientific review because atrazine is commonly found in groundwater, rivers and lakes, and rain.

    Atrazine Causes a Wide Variety of Problems in Many Species

    A team of 22 researchers from around the world set out to figure out exactly how much we should worry. Their paper describes how the chemical disrupts the normal reproductive development and functioning of males and females. Among their findings, "atrazine exposure can change the expression of genes involved in hormone signaling, interfere with metamorphosis, inhibit key enzymes that control estrogen and androgen production, skew the sex ratio of wild and laboratory animals (toward female)."

    "The most robust findings are in amphibians”, said University of Illinois comparative biosciences professor Val Beasley, a co-author of the review. “At least 10 studies found that exposure to atrazine feminizes male frogs, sometimes to the point of sex reversal,” he said.

    Atrazine Contaminates Drinking Water in U.S. Farming Regions

    A full 75 million pounds of atrazine is applied to corn and other U.S. crops annually. In 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a report on atrazine contamination of drinking water sources in the Midwest and Gulf states and found:

    1. Approximately 75 percent of stream water and about 40 percent of all groundwater samples from agricultural areas tested in an extensive U.S. Geological Survey study contained atrazine.
    2. Atrazine was found in 80 percent of drinking water samples taken in 153 public water systems.
    3. All 20 watersheds NRDC looked at showed detectable levels of atrazine, and 16 had average concentrations above 1 part per billion (ppb)—the level that has been shown to harm plants and wildlife.
    4. Eighteen of those watersheds were intermittently severely contaminated with at least one sample above 20 parts per billion (ppb). Nine had a peak concentration above 50 ppb, and three watersheds had peak maximum concentrations exceeding 100 ppb.

    Protecting People and Drinking Water from Atrazine Contamination

    NRDC called for a complete phase-out of atrazine use, for farmers to reduce atrazine application without waiting for new regulations or a ban in the U.S. They also called for the Environmental Protection Agency step up monitoring in likely contaminated areas, and for people in contaminated regions, especially farming communities, to install and use a home water filter system. The new scientific review supports these recommendations and at least one of the authors echoes the call for a ban on atrazine.

    "I hope this will stimulate policymakers to look at the totality of the data and ask very broad questions," Tyrone Hayes, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California at Berkeley and lead author of the review, told Science Daily. "Do we want this stuff in our environment? Do we want -- knowing what we know -- our children to drink this stuff? I would think the answer would be no."

    Atrazine Water Filter

    The good news for Berkey customers is that atrazine is one of the compounds that the black berkey filters remove to below a detectable level. You can find out more about what the berkey water filters remove here.

  • Commonly-Used Pesticide Atrazine Discovered in Drinking Water

    The Huffington Post is reporting that a pesticide commonly used by farmers in the US called atrazine was found to exceed EPA limits in drinking water within the four states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kansas.  The dilemma:  The customers were not told about the contamination, the EPA has not published the results, and misleading concentration levels were ultimately reported on water bills.

    What is Atrazine?

    Atrazine is a herbicide that was approved for use in 1958 and is used in the control of broadleaf weeds and some grassy weeds.  It's estimated to be the most heavily used herbicide in the U.S.  with the majority of agricultural use areas in being the midwest, particularly Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Nebraska, and Delaware.

    What are the Effects of Atrazine?

    The primary concern with atrazine has been from animal studies results showing that it affects hormone levels.  In one study, male frogs that were exposed to high Altrazine levels were shown to grow eggs.  Another study by the Biology or Reproduction released results this summer finding that exposure to atrazine in adult rats disrupted hormone production and triggered ovulation.  In the US, atrazine has the green light to be used across the nation, but in 2004 the European Union banned the use of atrazine as health officials were unable to prove it's safety in drinking water.

    Removing and Filtering Atrazine

    Many water filters are not designed to remove atrazine. The Black Berkey purification elements however are able to remove atrazine contamination from water to below detectable levels. The Black Berkeys come standard in any of the available sizes of Berkey Filter Systems.

    Watch This Video on Atrazine

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