High Levels of Weed Killer in Drinking Water Linked to Birth Defects: Not Disclosed to Public

August 24, 2009

(ChattahBox)—According to an investigative report published in the Huffington Post, a weed killer linked to birth defects and used extensively throughout the country on farms and golf courses is seeping into our nation’s drinking water supply at alarming levels, which exceed federal safety limits in four states. But the public is kept in the dark about the hidden dangers in the drinking water.

The weed killer is an herbicide named, atrazine and is manufactured by the Swiss company, Syngenta. When the EPA renewed approval for atrazine to be used in the U.S., the agency imposed new testing requirements on the company, requiring the company to test the levels of atrazine in the water of about 150 watersheds on a weekly basis. The results are sent to the EPA, state regulators and local water companies, but they are not made available to the public. Neither the EPA nor the water companies are legally required to do so.

Under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is only required to make public, the testing results conducted by state regulators and state regulators only test the drinking water, up to a maximum of four times per year. In practice, the state testing is infrequent and doesn’t provide complete information about temporary, but harmful spikes in the levels of atrazine in the drinking water.

The Huffington Post Investigative Fund obtained the records of the test results conducted by Syngenta from 2003 through 2008, through the Freedom of Information Act, and found alarming average yearly levels of atrazine in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, as well as temporary spikes that exceeded safety levels. The levels detected would have triggered an automatic notification to water customers, but since the results did not come from state tests, customers weren’t notified of the danger.

The EPA says it does not consider atrazine a health hazard and that it complied with all applicable laws regarding reporting test results to the public. Although it’s true the EPA found that the herbicide is “not likely” to be a carcinogen; the agency does officially consider atrazine to be a potential hormone disruptor.

Additionally, several peer-reviewed scientific studies found that atrazine was potentially harmful to developing fetuses. One study found that birth defect rates in the United States were highest for women who conceived during periods of atrazine spikes in the water supply.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy organization, just released a similar analysis of the discrepancies between the weekly Syngenta tests and the spotty state tests. The council and other watch dog groups are now calling on the EPA to inform the public about the dangerously high levels of atrazine in the drinking water.

Lloyd Littrell, director of utilities in Beloit, Kansas said, “If it’s an actual health hazard and they know and the EPA knows it’s getting in water — I can’t believe they’re not doing anything about it.” And neither can members of the public, whom have been unknowingly consuming water laced with dangerously high levels of a chemical herbicide for years.


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2 Responses to “High Levels of Weed Killer in Drinking Water Linked to Birth Defects: Not Disclosed to Public”

  1. Valuable Internet Information » High Levels of Weed Killer in Drinking Water Linked to Birth Defects: Not Disclosed to Public on August 24th, 2009 3:55 pm

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  2. Posts about Huffington Post as of August 24, 2009 » The Daily Parr on August 24th, 2009 4:35 pm

    […] of financial crimes, is available to discuss what may be happening behind the scenes as …. High Levels of Weed Killer in Drinking Water Linked to Birth Defects: Not Disclosed to Public – chattahbox.com 08/24/2009 (ChattahBox)—According to an investigative report published in the […]

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