BREAKING: USDA tests reveal toxic pesticides in bottled water.

EWG/Environmental Working Group

BREAKING: USDA tests reveal toxic pesticides in bottled water.

This is UNACCEPTABLE. New tests out of the Department of Agriculture detected atrazine, a weed killer – in BOTTLED WATER. Atrazine is so potent that even low-level exposure can turn male frogs into female frogs with perfectly viable eggs.

AND the same report detected chlorpyrifos on nearly 10 percent of asparagus tested. Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxic pesticide that can cause brain damage in kids. And it’s on our asparagus!

The EPA is choosing to ignore the science that shows these chemicals cause cancer and brain damage, and disrupt hormone systems. Instead they want to protect the profits of Dow Chemical and Syngenta, the pesticides manufacturers.

These pesticides should not be on the market. Period. It’s time for the EPA to take action and protect our health! Join EWG and urge the EPA to BAN atrazine and chlorpyrifos.

In the face of heavy pressure from Big Ag, the EPA has ignored atrazine’s and chlorpyrifos’ serious health concerns, despite public outcry. Until Scott Pruitt stepped in, chlorpyrifos was scheduled to be banned. It’s despicable that the EPA continues to choose industry profits over our health.

Industry claims these chemicals are safe, but science shows otherwise:

  • A study by the EPA’s own scientists shows that chlorpyrifos impairs children’s IQ and brain development.

  • Not only can atrazine alter frog anatomy, it can also harm the developing fetus and increase the risk of cancer.

  • Europe has already banned agricultural spraying of atrazine because it can pollute drinking water.

We know that front groups like the Alliance for Food and Farming are going to dial up their attacks on EWG, trying to whitewash these results.

EPA Ignores the Science, Dismisses the Risks to Children’s Health From Syngenta’s Atrazine

In a move that echoes pesticide industry wishes, the Environmental Protection Agency chose to ignore recent science and human health studies on atrazine, a weed-killer that turns male frogs into females and may increase the risk of cancer, The New York Times reported last month.

Atrazine is manufactured by agrochemical giant Syngenta. It is sprayed mostly on Midwest corn fields and is consistently one of the most-detected crop chemicals in drinking water.

According to EWG’s Tap Water Database, which aggregates testing data from utilities nationwide, in 2015, atrazine was found in water systems serving nearly 30 million Americans in 27 states.

Due to its ability to disturb the fine-tuned hormonal balance in the body, even at low doses, atrazine can affect the reproductive system and the developing fetus. The European Union completely phased out atrazine because of its potential to contaminate drinking water.


Join EWG and tell EPA to ban atrazine!

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In the U.S. in 2013, Syngenta settled a class action lawsuit brought by water utilities with atrazine contamination for $105 million. The settlement money was distributed to communities with the most contamination, but for many systems, that amount was insufficient to cover costs of long-term water treatment.

In an interview with KQED-FM of San Francisco, Tyrone Hayes, a professor of biology at the University of California at Berkeley, said atrazine is found at levels in the environment where it’s known to affect animals, wildlife, and laboratory animals. But he said the data suggest it also affects people.

Pregnancy and early childhood are the most vulnerable periods for atrazine exposure. Atrazine disrupts the nerve and hormone systems, impacting one’s brain, behavior and crucial hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and dopamine.

The human studies ignored by the EPA point to specific health harms that can come from atrazine in drinking water. In 2017, Leslie Stayner and his colleagues at the University of Illinois reviewed more than 130,000 birth records in four Midwestern states and reported a statistically significant association between atrazine presence in drinking water and preterm births. The average concentration of atrazine was one-seventh of the EPA’s legal limit for atrazine of three parts per billion, or ppb. (A part per billion is about one drop of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.)

A 2011 French study reported restricted fetal growth and small head circumference in babies whose mothers drank atrazine-contaminated tap water during the first trimester of pregnancy. Scientists from the University of Texas School of Public Health reported an elevated risk of genital malformations among male children born to mothers who lived in counties with frequent atrazine spraying.

As scientists continue to study endocrine disruptors, it is clear that these contaminants do not belong in water. In 1999, California scientists set a public health goal for atrazine of 0.15 ppb, 20 times lower than the federal legal limit. In 2016, California added atrazine and related herbicides to its official list of chemicals known to cause developmental toxicity and to harm the female reproductive system.

Yet when the EPA published its latest review of atrazine, new research was discarded, putting the interests of pesticide manufacturers ahead of human health. Overall, the agency:

  • Ignored more than 10 human epidemiological studies showing human health harm from atrazine in drinking water;
  • Ignored the data showing that atrazine can change brain function and behavior;
  • Dismissed the children’s health impacts from atrazine; and
  • Discounted the potential cancer risks of atrazine.

Since the EPA is not doing its job of protecting the public from pesticides, it is essential for families and communities to look for ways to safeguard their own health, especially when atrazine levels in their water are high. Atrazine typically contaminates drinking water during the spring or early summer spraying, most often during the months of May and June, as EWG first reported in 1995.

Atrazine and similar herbicides can be removed from tap water by carbon filters, including inexpensive countertop pitchers. If you have, or suspect you might have contaminants in your tap water, EWG’s Water Filter Guide can help identify the best options.  

In the meanwhile, EWG, together with thousands of our supporters, is standing up to the EPA and demanding a ban on atrazine.