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September 26, 2011

U.S. seeks public comment on ban of herbicide Atrazine

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently seeking public comments regarding a potential ban on Atrazine, one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States. The chemical, produced by Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta, has been banned in the European Union since 2004, but 80 million pounds of it are applied to U.S. farms and lawns each year.

Atrazine, the most commonly detected herbicide in American groundwater, is used primarily on corn, sugar cane, rice, sorghum, golf courses and lawns. The EPA’s call for comments was prompted by more than 60,000 petition signatures and emails received from supporters of various nonprofit groups. Comments will be accepted through Nov. 14, 2011.

Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor that, at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion, has been shown to cause immunosuppression, hermaphroditism and even complete sex reversal in male frogs. The herbicide has been linked to reproductive defects in fish and prostate and breast cancer in laboratory rodents, and epidemiological studies suggest it is carcinogenic to humans. Atrazine is extremely persistent in the environment. It is still detectable in France 15 years after its last usage there. More than half a million pounds of Atrazine return to the Earth each year in rain and snow after it is caught in the airstream following spraying.

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