Atrazine: It brings bad things to life!

We spent a lot of time talking about the discharges to our rivers from Lake O. We talked fertilizer. We have a fertilizer ban.

We really don’t talk about pesticides and herbicides and they are everywhere.

Invisible to us.

Today I want to talk about Atrazine.

“Atrazine is a herbicide of the triazine class. Atrazine is used to prevent pre- and postemergence broadleaf weeds in crops such as maize (corn) and sugarcane and on turf, such as golf courses and residential lawns. It is one of the most widely used herbicides in US] and Australian agriculture.]It was banned in the European Union in 2004, when the EU found groundwater levels exceeding the limits set by regulators, and Syngenta could neither show that this could be prevented nor that these levels were safe.

As of 2001, Atrazine was the most commonly detected pesticide contaminating drinking water in the United States.Studies suggest it is an endocrine disruptor, an agent that can alter the natural hormonal system. In 2006 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had stated that under the Food Quality Protection Act “the risks associated with the pesticide residues pose a reasonable certainty of no harm”, and in 2007, the EPA said that Atrazine does not adversely affect amphibian sexual development and that no additional testing was warranted. EPA´s 2009 review concluded that “the agency’s scientific bases for its regulation of atrazine are robust and ensure prevention of exposure levels that could lead to reproductive effects in humans.” EPA started a registration review in 2013.

The EPA’s review has been criticized, and the safety of atrazine remains controversial.”

Int J Occup Environ Health. 2006 Jul-Sep;12(3):260-7.

European Union bans atrazine, while the United States negotiates continued use.


“Atrazine is a common agricultural herbicide with endocrine disruptor activity. There is evidence that it interferes with reproduction and development, and may cause cancer. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved its continued use in October 2003, that same month the European Union (EU) announced a ban of atrazine because of ubiquitous and unpreventable water contamination. The authors reviewed regulatory procedures and government documents, and report efforts by the manufacturer of atrazine, Syngenta, to influence the U.S. atrazine assessment, by submitting flawed scientific data as evidence of no harm, and by meeting repeatedly and privately with EPA to negotiate the government’s regulatory approach. Many of the details of these negotiations continue to be withheld from the public, despite EPA regulations and federal open-government laws that require such decisions to be made in the open.”

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Banned in the European Union and clearly linked to harm to wildlife and potentially to humans, the pesticide atrazine provides little benefit to offset its risks. In 2009, NRDC analyzed results of surface water and drinking water monitoring data for atrazine and found pervasive contamination of watersheds and drinking water systems across the Midwest and Southern United States. This May 2010 report summarizes scientific information that has emerged since the publication of our initial report and includes more recent monitoring data.

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. NRDC found that the U.S. EPA’s inadequate monitoring systems and weak regulations have compounded the problem, allowing levels of atrazine in watersheds and drinking water to peak at extremely high concentrations.

The most recent data confirms that atrazine continues to contaminate watersheds and drinking water. Atrazine was found in 80 percent of drinking water samples taken in 153 public water systems. All twenty watersheds sampled in 2007 and 2008 had detectable levels of atrazine, and sixteen had average concentrations above the level that has been shown to harm plants and wildlife.

Given the pesticide’s limited usefulness and the ease with which safer agricultural methods can be substituted to achieve similar results, NRDC recommends phasing out the use of atrazine, more effective atrazine monitoring, the adoption of farming techniques that can help minimize the use of atrazine and prevent it from running into waterways.”

Atrazine in drinking water

“Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S., and is found in 94% of U.S drinking water tested by the USDA — more often than any other pesticide. An estimated 7 million people were exposed to atrazine in their drinking water between 1998 and 2003.

The highest levels of contamination are in the Midwest where it is widely used on corn fields. USGS monitoring shows drinking water concentrations typically spike during the spring and early summer as rains flush the freshly applied herbicide into streams — and into local water supplies.

Data from the EPA’s Atrazine Monitoring Program show that atrazine levels in drinking water can spike above the legal limit of 3 parts per billion in some U.S. water supplies. Although the EPA bases its limit on an annual average (not seasonal peaks), the monitoring results reveal alarming levels of human exposure.”

In Florida

To determine the distribution and concentration of atrazine at south Florida sites, multiple water samples were collected from several canals/ditches at each of two agricultural sites every two weeks from February through June, 2002 . Adult toads were collected from two sugarcane agricultural areas Canal Point (CP), and Belle Glade (BG) as well as from a University of Miami pond/canal (reference site with little to no atrazine use or agricultural input) during April-June 2002. Adult Bufo marinus were collected from these three sites: Canal Point (N=55), Belle Glade (N=50), and University of Miami (N=24). Body weight, length, and coloration were recorded, blood was collected, and gonads were removed and weighed. This species is sexually dimorphic, with females having a mottled appearance and males having a solid coloration. Sex was identified as follows: the presence of ovarian tissue and absence of testicular tissue = female; presence of testes and absence of developing eggs, oviduct, and ovarian tissue = normal male; and presence of testes with developing eggs or oviduct or ovarian tissue = intersex . Macroscopic identification of additional testicular anomalies included: segmented testes, abnormal shaped testis, twisted or curled testes, and multiple testes. Gonads from each individual that had testicular tissue were both macroscopically and histologically examined. Blood plasma was analyzed for phospho-lipoprotein (an indirect measure of vitellogenin) and estradiol and testosterone concentrations were analyzed using RIA procedures.


Children at a water park in Belle Glade directly across from a huge sugar cane field.


Playground at Pioneer Park in Belle Glade directly across from a huge sugar cane field.

Atrazine levels were highest at Canal Point during March, but were highest at Belle Glade in February. B. marinus tadpoles were potentially exposed to atrazine concentrations as high as 20ppb during development at Canal Point and 26ppb at Belle Glade during 2002. Toads collected from the nonagricultural /reference, University of Miami, site exhibited the characteristic gender-specific pattern which correlated to subsequent gonadal morphology and histology. However, all toads collected from both agricultural sites, Belle Glade and Canal Point, exhibited the distinctive female pattern, although subsequent gonadal morphology and histology demonstrated male, intersexed, and female toads. The frequency of males exhibiting “testis abnormalities” was not significantly different among sites. The frequency of intersexed animals was significantly different among sites: 39 percent and 29 percent of the individuals at the agricultural sites, Canal Point and Belle Glade. No individuals from the non-agricultural/reference site were intersexed. The types of abnormal female tissue found in association with testicular tissue varied between CP and BG. Plasma sex steroids did not differ between intersexed and normal males. However, plamsa phospholipoprotein (an indirect indicator of vitellogenin was increased in intersexed males to levels which were similar to those for vitellogenic females.

Sugar cane in Belle Glade

Sugar cane in Belle Glade across from Pioneer Park

The purpose of this preliminary study was to determine if animals found in sugarcane exhibit reproductive abnormalities similar to those seen in African Clawed Frogs exposed to atrazine in the laboratory. The incidence of testicular anomalies, other than intersex were similar across sites. However, the incidence of intersex was increased for both agricultural sites as compared to the non-agricultural/reference site. Nonetheless, Bufo marinus adults were active and breeding at all sites. Data suggests that agricultural exposure, including exposure to atrazine, may explain the differences in the percent of intersexed individuals and length of oocytes between Canal Point and Belle Glade sites. However, we can not conclude that atrazine is responsible for these abnormalities, since other agricultural chemcials are likely present at both sites. In addition, water quality analyses were not conducted for the non-agricultural/reference site (University of Miami) and exposure to atrazine at this site is unknown. The University of Miami site is expected to have low levels of atrazine, but is probably not atrazine free. Further research should be conducted to determine whether atrazine is capable of causing the effects we have documented in B. marinus under controlled laboratory conditions as well as expanded field studies of these and other sites. Nonetheless, these results indicate an increased incidence of intersex in toads exposed to agricultural contaminants. The implications of these data to future and ongoing restoration is unknown, however, a redistribution of water resources in the greater everglades ecosystem could result in additional exposures for amphibian populations in this sensitive ecosystem.

Contact: Timothy S. Gross, USGS-FISC, 7920 NW 71st St., Gainesville, FL 32653., Phone: 352-378-8181 Ext 323, FAX: 352-378-4956,”

A Million people a day are exposed to Atrazine. Atrazine is used in sugar cane fields.  Read this or watch the videos and weep.

In 1997, the consulting firm EcoRisk, Inc. paid Hayes to join a panel of experts conducting studies for Novartis (later Syngenta) on the herbicide atrazine.[1][3] When Hayes’ research found unexpected toxicities for atrazine, he reported them to the panel, however the panel and company were resistant to his findings. He wanted to repeat his work to validate it but Novartis refused funding for further research; he resigned from the panel and obtained other funding to repeat the experiments.[1][3]

In 2002 Hayes published findings that he says replicate what he found while he was working for EcoRisk,[1] that developing male African clawed frogs and leopard frogs exhibited female characteristics after exposure to atrazine, first in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)[4] and then in Nature.[5][6]

In 2007, Hayes was a co-author on a paper that detailed atrazine inducing mammary and prostate cancer in laboratory rodents and highlighted atrazine as a potential cause of reproductive cancers in humans.[7] At a presentation to the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in 2007, Hayes presented results of his studies that showed chemical castration in frogs; individuals of both sexes had developed bisexual reproductive organs.

In one of the 2005 e-mails obtained by class-action lawsuit plaintiffs, the company’s communications consultants had written about plans to track Hayes’ speaking engagements and prepare audiences with Syngenta’s counterpoints to Hayes’s message on atrazine. Syngenta subsequently stated that many of the documents unsealed in the lawsuits refer to “ideas that were never implemented.”,