Atrazine's Effects and You


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I created a powerpoint presentation for a class. It should be very enlightening to Southern Illinois or any midwestern resident.

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Atrazine's Effects and You

  1. 1. Edgar PerezTyson West
  2. 2.  Atrazine is an agricultural herbicide that is widely used by farmers to control broadleaf weeds and grasses that interfere with the growth of corn, sorghum, sugar cane and other crops. Atrazine has been produced by Swiss company Syngenta since 1959. The herbicide has been banned in the European Union since 2004—individual countries in Europe banned Atrazine as early as 1991—but 80 million pounds of the stuff is used each year in the United States. Atrazine is volatile, but may remain attached to soil particles for up to 100 days. Has been detected up to 180 miles away from its source of input to the extent that there are virtually no Atrazine free environments in the US. Is toxic to aquatic species Most common molecule found in groundwater, and surface water. But farmers defend it’s use because it increases agricultural yield.
  3. 3.  Effects on the Nervous System Atrazine alters central nervous system production of two chemicals, dopamine and norepinephrine. Both transmit nerve impulses between nervous system cells, and act as hormones. Altered production of these chemicals, in turn, alters levels of two hormones, prolactin and luteinizing hormone. Effects on the Immune System According to the National Toxicology Program, atrazine is ―immunotoxic,‖ disrupting the function of the immune system. For example, it decreased the production of interferon, a molecule that fights viral infection. Also reduces white blood cells. Effects on the Liver and Kidneys Effects on the Heart Effects on Hormones Exposure to atrazine also disrupts hormone systems. Detailed research, much of it done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), showed that testosterone, prolactin, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, estrogen, and a thyroid hormone are all affected by atrazine. Effects on Reproduction In an Ontario [Canada] Farm Family Health Study, the incidence of premature birth in families in which the father applied atrazine on the farm was nearly double that of families in which the father was not exposed to pesticides. Effects on Development Mutagenicity Carcinogenicity Atrazine has caused genetic damage in a variety of laboratory studies. A study on workers at an atrazine production facility found that ―occupational exposure to atrazine causes a significant increase in the percentage of chromosomal damage‖ in the workers’ blood cells. Special Susceptibility to Children
  4. 4. Atrazine-induced deformations in frogs Atrazine is frequently detected in aquatic waters, and has been known to affect reproduction of aquatic flora and fauna, which in turn impacts on the community structure as a whole. Atrazine Threatens Amphibians: The chemical is a potent endocrine disruptor that causes immunosuppression, hermaphroditism and even complete sex reversal in male frogs at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion (ppb)—well below the 3.0 ppb that the EPA says is safe. The public health issue is a growing concern, because atrazine is also the most commonly detected pesticide in American groundwater. An extensive U.S. Geological Survey study found atrazine in approximately 75 percent of stream water and about 40 percent of groundwater samples in the agricultural areas tested. More recent data showed atrazine present in 80 percent of drinking water samples taken from 153 public water systems. Atrazine has also been reported by the National Institute for Health and Environmental Sciences to be an Obesogen.
  5. 5.  EPA received a May 6, 2011, petition from the group Save the Frogs, requesting the agency to ban the use and production of atrazine. EPA has posted the petition for public comment, which is consistent with its stated goal to be open and transparent in scientific and regulatory processes. A blatant example of greenwashing can be found on Syngenta’s,, website with a similar link to ―Save the Frogs‖. Why would a company that poses no risk to biological organisms need to absolve themselves of wrong-doing? Atrazine passes the most stringent, up-to-date safety requirements in the world. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority have concluded atrazine is safe at levels found in the environment. In addition, the World Health Organization has also favorably reviewed atrazine (2007, 2010).EPA GUIDELINES ARE THE MOST STRINGENT UP-TO-DATE. BUT ARE THEY REALLY?
  6. 6.  Monitoring programs were not designed to find the biggest problems: The EPA’s monitoring program for atrazine was poorly designed and is not apt to find the most troubling results, which makes the statistics even more alarming. For example, samples taken before a rainstorm washes pesticides into a watershed will show much lower concentrations of pesticide than samples taken after a rainstorm, which can capture the contaminated field. (NRDC) The EPA is ignoring the atrazine: Because of the potential adverse effects associated with even short exposures to atrazine, the spikes detected in the watersheds and the public drinking water systems are particularly alarming. Yet, because the EPA focuses on average concentrations of atrazine, it has ignored these peaks. The European Union has banned the use of atrazine. Their endpoint for toxicological testing is at Sub-lethal levels, they are focused on morphological, physiological, behavioral and biochemical changes. Therefore, a chemical is considered toxic, if it substantially reduces an organisms ability to forage, by any change mentioned above. Highly regulated. The EPA on the other hand, uses lethal levels as its endpoint (5% mortality rate). Therefore, it is not considered toxic unless it kills a percentage of organisms from a population. Needs more stringent regulation, at the moment it is weak.
  7. 7.  From the previous map it is clear that Illinois, the second-largest producer of corn, has taken a substantial beating. Southern Illinois district towns, specifically Hillsboro, Mattoon, Flora, Fairfield, Evansville, Illi nois (Beloit, Kansas; Blanchester, Ohio; Piqua, Ohio; Versailles, Indiana; and Wyaconda,Missouri. Evansville, IL saw an especially disturbing exceedence in 2005 as the amount of Atrazine in finished (tap) water was 43.48 ppb, nearly 15 X’s the “safe” limit.
  8. 8.  The southern district of Illinois “won” an 8 year class action lawsuit on May 24, 2012, that still awaits court approval. The proposed settlement agreement would award water systems a share from a $105 million award. Water districts that have tested positive of an exceedence in concentration of Atrazine could file an grievance and be awarded a portion of the total $105 million. Syngenta also sought to expunge from the court record their involvement in using previous vice president of Monsanto, and current chairman of the FDA, Michael R. Taylor, to lobby for setting EPA regulation standards. As it as it had no relevance to the case. Hmmm…
  9. 9.  Scientists, along with the EPA, believe the pesticide interferes with endocrine hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. -- but has yet to ban it. A new study released in the fall of 2011, compared woman in Vermont and Illinois. The Illinois residents tap water had double the concentration of atrazine than the Vermont communities’ water. The study revealed that women had significantly lower levels of estrogen during an important part of the menstrual cycle. As a result, the women from Illinois farm towns were nearly five times more likely to report irregular periods than the Vermont women, and more than six times as likely to go more than six weeks between periods.
  10. 10.  Syngenta has spent millions on marketing, public relations (PR) campaigns, and lobbying to maintain its market and fight calls to phase atrazine out of use in the U.S. Some of that money has gone to public university researchers. Dr. Paul Mitchell, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at University of Wisconsin – Madison has published two studies in tandem with other members of Syngenta’s ―Atrazine Benefits Team,‖ funded by Syngenta. Studies on the ―economic benefits‖ of atrazine and other related herbicides in the triazine family are referenced in Syngenta’s Earth Day press release. zwfz1202zhun.aspx#ixzz2NgBGnjzH
  11. 11.
  12. 12.  Fox News’ very own Steve Milloy ACSH’s Beth Whelan Hudson’s Alex Avery Richard “deep-pockets” Fawcett (upper right) University of Chicago’s, Don Corsey. Mascot Don Corsey
  13. 13.  Commentator for FOX pseudo- news channel and runs a website called Has published a book called Junk Science Judo, with the purpose to “debunk” health scares. Has been a member of special interest “spin groups” and funded by ExxonMobil and received at least $180,000 from Philip Morris to debunk fears about the harmful effects of smoking. He has also received a multiple unknown number of $25,000 checks from Syngenta to defend their product line and sway public opinion. Has attacked Tyrone Hayes multiple times and his methods of studying amphibian hormone disruption, saying his experiments were performed in protocol, but has not said how these procedures were indeed faulty.
  14. 14.  In 2010, Alex Avery, director of research and education for the CGFI (Center for Global Food Issues) at the Hudson Institute, has been sponsored by Monsanto, Dow Agrisciences, and atleast $68,550 from Syngenta to dispute claims questioning the adverse effects of Atrazine. Has been a crusader against organic food and a proponent for “safe agrichemicals. Also attempts to slander and disprove Tyrone Hayes’ claims citing research by “independent scientists not on chemical companies’ payroll. One such scientist, Dr. Werner Kloas, Professor of Endocrinology at Humboldt University in Berlin, was in fact contracted by Syngenta (PDF) to conduct EPA- mandated studies on atrazines effects on frogs.
  15. 15.  Mentioned earlier in presentation, Professor of Public Policy Studies at Harris School, University of Chicago, estimates that Atrazine provides a total of 48,000 jerbs for Americans! Speculates, based on collaborated research, that the ban of Atrazine would cost the farmer an “estimated” $28 per acre for yield-loss, alternate methods, fuel costs, etc.
  16. 16.  American Council on Science and Health founder and president, Beth Whelan’s personal crusade is to end the “chemophobia (her clever word) of necessary agri-chemicals. Some of ACSHs published materials have a disclaimer saying it accepts corporate donations but it "does not accept support from individual corporations for specific research projects.“ In a study to debunk the NY Times deep analysis of Atrazine dangers, the ACSH sought to collect $100,000 from Syngenta to fund refuting research. Whelans group has annual income of about $2 million a year, and she is paid over $350,000 in compensation from this non-profit group funded by Syngenta and other global corporations.
  17. 17.  Documents obtained by CMD show that Richard Fawcett, the president of Fawcett Consulting firm, is also on Syngentass "benefits panel." Has concluded from research that Atrazine offers a correlation between better crop yields and "atrazine helps farmers by helping them help the environment.“ This is based on the absence of necessary tilling between crop rotation that contributes to excessive soil erosion. Adds personal accounts and states, “When I was a kid growing up on a farm in Eastern Iowa, I wouldnt have dreamed to see coyotes or otters or wild turkeys or even deer on our farm. Today, wildlife is back…” CMD show that Fawcetts firm has been paid at least $500,000 between 1995 and 2011 for his work that promotes atrazine. party-pundits-spin-news-atrazine
  18. 18.  Tim Pastoor, a toxicologist from Syngenta and a leading “expert” on atrazine (also simazine and propazine). Atrazine has come under fire in recent years from environmental groups, who have lobbied the EPA to restrict atrazines usage, claiming it is harmful to humans and amphibians. Dr. Pastoor knows these complaints well, but says the science does not back them up: Dr. Paul Mitchell: University of Wisconsin, recently named member of Atrazine benefits team. xicologist-responds-atrazine-critics-agricultural-law-crops-food-supply.aspx
  19. 19. Atrazine MSDS Atrazine can travel (seep or leach) through soil and can enter ground water which may be used as drinking water. Atrazine has been found in ground water. Users are advised not to apply atrazine to sand and loamy permeable soils where the water table (ground water) is close to the surface.. Your local agricultural agencies can provide further information on the type of soil in your area and the location of ground water. This pesticide is toxic to aquatic invertebrates. For terrestrial uses, do not apply directly to water, or to areas where surface water is present or to intertidal areas below the mean high water mark. Do not apply where runoff is likely to occur. Do not apply when weather conditions favor drift from treated areas. Runoff and drift from treated areas may be hazardous to aquatic organisms and injurious to desirable plants in neighboring areas. Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment wash-waters.
  20. 20. Syngenta also warns thatAtrazine only be applied byqualified individuals. Who isregulating the qualification ofthese farmers?
  21. 21.  There Is No Need Denying This: Defusing the Confusion about Atrazine - TYRONE B. HAYES ―Recent studies from my laboratory, showing the chemical castration (demasculinization) and feminization of amphibians by low but ecologically relevant concentrations of atrazine in the laboratory and in the wild, prompted a critical response from atrazine’s manufacturer, Syngenta Crop Protection, and Syngenta-funded scientists. A careful analysis of the published data funded by Syngenta, and EPA by the Syngenta-funded panel for data evaluation, indicates that the data presented in these studies are not in disagreement with my laboratory’s peer-reviewed, published data. Further, the published and unpublished data presented to the EPA by the Syngenta- funded panel (and touted in the popular press) suffer from contaminated laboratory controls; high mortality; inappropriate measurements of hormone levels in stressed, sexually immature animals during non-reproductive seasons; and contaminated reference sites. The confounding factors in the industry-funded studies severely limit any conclusions about the adverse effects of atrazine on amphibians and prevent meaningful comparisons with my laboratory’s published data.
  22. 22.  xrH4lN0-A
  23. 23.  The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness Invokes the Data Quality Act to Reject Published Studies on Atrazine Toxicity Author(s): Jon P. Devine, Jr. Reviewed work(s): pdf
  24. 24.  The EPA says that atrazine below 3 ppb is unsafe, especially to pregnant women. Atrazine has been associated with birth defects, low birth weights and premature births.4 A Purdue University study found that concentrations as low as .1 ppb (30 times lower than allowed by the EPA) may be associated with low birth weights
  25. 25.  What are the “Positive” affects of Atrazine use? According to a collaborative study performed by Don Coursey the Ameritech Professor of Public Policy at Harris School of Public Policy & University of Chicago, an Atrazine ban would cost Illinois, the second largest corn-producing state, an estimated $159 to $555 million in crop-production and the use of “less-effective” alternatives. The report did not factor the cost of environmental remediation of other environmental detriment, such as; topsoil loss, nutrient-robbing weeds, etc.
  26. 26.  Banning Atrazine Would Not Hurt Farmers U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that if atrazine were banned in the United States, the drop in corn yields would be only about 1.19 percent, and the corn acreage would be reduced by only 2.35 percent. Dr. Frank Ackerman, an economist at Tufts University, concluded that estimates of higher corn losses were flawed due to problems in methodology. Ackerman found that despite a 1991 ban on atrazine in both Italy and Germany, neither country has recorded significant adverse economic effects as Italy and (especially) Germany show faster growth in harvested areas after banning atrazine than before.‖ Cant live without it? How are we living with it? The EU banned atrazine in 2004 and is doing fine without it. Several countries that have a policy of banning chemicals that occur in drinking water at levels higher than 0.1 parts per billion.
  27. 27.  Http:// climatechangelaw/blogs/publichealthsafety/archive/2012/02/07/toxicologist-responds- atrazine-critics-agricultural-law-crops-food-supply.aspx pesticides/#more-1465 zmgz12amzrog.aspx#axzz2NNH6PAmQ