Day 15: Atrazine

Atrazine is one of the most common herbicides used today, and is commonly found in groundwater and drinking water throughout agricultural areas.  There is some evidence that atrazine can produce mammary tumors in lab rats, but longitudinal studies on its health effects on humans are limited.  That being said it is commonly associated with birth defects and menstrual problems when consumed in low concentrations, which is a major reason why it is banned in the European Union today.  The EPA guideline for the maximum level of atrazine in drinking water is 3 parts per billion, however the WHO guideline is 2 parts per billion.

Atrazine was developed in the 1950’s by Geigy laboratories in Switzerland – where the insecticidal properties of DDT were discovered in 1939.  It was registered for use in the United States in 1958 and quickly became one of the world’s most widely used herbicides.  It has, in the process also become one of the world’s most widely researched herbicides, and countless studies have been performed to demonstrate that its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks.  Today it is used on nearly 25% of all US crop acreage, where over 76 million pounds of it are used annually.

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