Dangers of the Herbicide Atrazine: Protect Yourself from Exposure

Atrazine herbicide

Dangers of the Herbicide Atrazine

 

Did you know that the dangers of the herbicide atrazine can compromise the health of people with autoimmune diseases? Atrazine is the most common herbicide found in our drinking water.  If you have RA, your immune system is already under stress. You need to do all you can to protect your immune system from additional stress.

What is Atrazine?

Atrazine is the second most frequently used herbicide in this country. It is second only to glyphosate. It is a chlorine-based chemical manufactured by Syngenta. It is used by many farmers in the mid west to kill weeds in their fields.  It is used on 50% of the corn crops, on sugar cane, pineapples,  sorghum and macadamia nuts. It is also used to kill weeds on highways, railroad beds and some golf courses.

Atrazine can remain in the soil for as long as 22 years after spraying. It is estimated that 70 million pounds of atrazine is sprayed on crops in this country annually.

The EPA requires that farm workers and professional landscapers must attend training and have a license before spraying atrazine.

Rain washes atrazine out of the fields and into rivers and streams. It can remain in our water for a long time because it does not immediately break down in water. It eventually ends up in our drinking water. It is most frequently found in high levels in drinking water in the spring in farming areas in the midwest. Because it is a poison, the EPA has required that water levels of Atrazine in drinking water remain below 3 ug/L.

The Dangers of the Herbicide Atrazine

Unfortunately many environmental scientists have found evidence that the EPA’s established limit of atrazine in our drinking water is too high. There is evidence that lower levels of atrazine are causing harm to humans.

The New York Times published an article on an extensive investigative study they conducted. They discovered many experienced scientists are very concerned about the levels of atrazine in farming communities in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and Ohio. Local records show that the levels of atrazine in drinking water in farming communities was sometimes above the EPA’s legal level and residents in these communities were never notified. The EPA has required Syngenta to test the water levels once in the spring and report their results to the local water companies. The water companies claim they never received reports from Syngenta. That is likely because testing was not being done frequently enough. Local records of water levels of atrazine do show spikes of atrazine that were above the legal limit if 3 ug/L.

Many studies show evidence that atrazine is harmful to animals and some provide evidence that it is harmful to humans as well.

  • Dr. Tyrone Hayes, a very famous researcher who has done extensive research on frogs  was hired by Novartis (a company owned by Syngenta) to study the effect of atrazine on frogs. He found that atrazine induced castration and complete feminization in male African clawed frogs. Novartis was not happy with Dr. Hayes’ findings. Hayes resigned his position with Novartis and completed his study on frogs independently. He confirmed his original findings and his study results have been published by the National Academy of Sciences.(10)
  • A recent study just published in the journal, Environmental Research sent questionnaires to women in Illinois farming communities and in two rural towns in Vermont (where atrazine is not used). The researchers compared the results of the two groups. They found that the women from Illinois towns were five times more likely to have irregular periods and bleeding between periods than the Vermont women. The Illinois group of women were also more likely than the Vermont women to go more that 6 weeks between periods and to have lower levels of estrogen. This certainly points to the fact that atrazine may be an endocrine disruptor in humans as well as in animals.(9 )
  • Another study published in SCI Rep in 2016 found dangers of the herbicide atrazine. Zebrafish were exposed to from 0 to 30 parts per billion of atrazine and then allowed to mature with no additional exposure to chemicals. The researchers found that there was a significant increase in progesterone and a decrease in spawning among the treated fish. Additionally offspring of the treated fish had a decrease in head length to body ratio and an increase in head width to body ratio. Researchers concluded that atrazine caused reproductive dysfunction and molecular dysfunction in adult fish and body alterations in their offspring.(2)
  • A 2009 study conducted by Purdue University tied low birth weights in babies born to mothers in Indiana communities exposed to atrazine between 1993 and 2007. This study reviewed records of 24,000 babies in 19 communities. (4)

These and other studies have indicated that atrazine can cause an increase in pre-term deliveries in people who live on farms where atrazine is used. Most of the studies on atrazine have been done on animals but may affect the the reproductive system of humans in a different way. Atrazine has also been tied to liver, kidney and heart damage in animals and has slowed down the development of animal fetuses.

For all of these reasons EPA has spent decades watching for additional dangers of the herbicide atrazine and limiting the amount of atrazine in our drinking water.

The bottom line is we do not know exactly what the long term dangers of the herbicide atrazine are. Atrazine remains the most frequently detected contaminant in our water supply. The European Union banned it from their drinking water in 2005.

If those of us with autoimmune diseases are prudent we will do what we can to protect ourselves from exposure to atrazine and other contaminants in our drinking water.

How Do We Protect Ourselves From the Harmful Effects of Exposure to Atrazine?

There are many things you can do to reduce your body’s exposure to pesticides.

First and foremost eat organic if at all possible. If you do not have access to organic food or cannot afford it, try to find a local farmer who does not use pesticides and purchase food directly from that farmer.

Filter your drinking water. The best filters for drinking water are reverse osmosis filters.  AquaTru (no, I am not an affiliate) is the filter most Functional Medicine Physicians recommend. I have one and I trust it. Kentucky water has never tasted so good and it is free of pesticides and drugs.

If you have been exposed to atrazine and other pesticides, eat fermented vegetables. They will help your body break down toxins. There is also an antioxidant called lycopene that is in watermelon, red bell peppers and tomatoes that may help you body break down pesticides. (1)

Atrazine is scheduled to be reviewed by the EPA again this year. Many in the EPA state that they have been directed to focus on other issues so there is danger that the EPA’s current rules about atrazine may not change. It is therefore prudent that you do what you can to protect yourself against drinking water that is contaminated by atrazine.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Saundra

References

  1. articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/09/03/syngenta-atrazine-effects.aspx
  2. http://www.naturalblaze.com/2016/08/atrazine.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842049/
  4. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/10/a-valuable-reputation
  5. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=336&tid=59
  6. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10716
  7. http://www.ewg.org/research/chapter-3-findings-and-recommendations/table7
  8. http://www.purdueexponent.org/campus/article_55e1ca93-90ed-552a-83ee-80df6d7b7c8f.html
  9. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/atrazine-water-tied-hormonal-irregularities/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28116766

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