A commonly used herbicide has been making the news lately because of spikes in the chemical's levels found in the drinking water of Midwestern and Southern towns. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report Monday documenting the levels of atrazine in the water and calling out the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for ignoring the problem.
The EPA and the manufacturer of the herbicide, not surprisingly, seem to think this is no big deal:
Scientists with atrazine manufacturer Syngenta called the NRDC study alarmist and said the spikes fall within one- and 10-day limits that the EPA considers safe. "Atrazine is one of the best studied, most thoroughly regulated molecules on the planet," said Syngenta toxicologist Tim Pastoor. "Those momentary spikes are not going to be injurious to human health."
"This is an issue of the EPA not being forthright about what they know," said Robert Denver, a neuroendocrinologist at the University of Michigan who has served on two of the EPA's scientific advisory panels on atrazine.
"It is the responsibility of the EPA and Syngenta to inform the public of accurate levels of atrazine in their drinking water," said Jason Rohr, a specialist in ecotoxicology at the University of South Florida who studies the effects of atrazine in animals, and who served on the EPA's atrazine panel this past spring.