EPA needs to monitor pesticides better

Apparently, the US has been asleep at the helm for years when we should have been much more closely monitoring the alarming and increasing use of herbicides and pesticides in our crops, fields and yards. Atrazine, a chemical widely banned across Europe since 2004, is finally coming under the scrutiny of our own government, and it’s about time.

The Huffington Post tell us,

Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. An estimated 76 million pounds of the chemical are sprayed on corn and other fields in the U.S. each year, sometimes ending up in rivers, streams, and drinking water supplies. It has been the focus of intense scientific debate over its potential to cause cancer, birth defects, and hormonal and reproductive problems. As the Huffington Post Investigative Fund reported in a series of articles last fall, the EPA failed to warn the public that the weed-killer had been found at levels above federal safety limits in drinking water in at least four states. Some water utilities are suing Syngenta to have it pay their costs of filtering the chemical.

… EPA records obtained by The Huffington Post Investigative Fund show that at least half of the 6,611 studies the agency is reviewing to help make its decision were conducted by scientists and organizations with a financial stake in atrazine, including Syngenta or its affiliated companies and research contractors.

More than 80 percent of studies on which the EPA are relying have never been published. This means that they have not undergone rigorous “peer review” by independent scientists, a customary method to ensure studies are credible and scientifically sound before they can be published in major journals.

Jump to full report at Grist (parts based on Huffington Post article)

“http://huffpostfund.org/stories/2010/07/weighing-safety-weed-killer-drinking-water-epa-relies-heavily-industry-backed-studie#epastudies”>Danielle Ivory Huffington Post Investigative Fund tells us, “Companies with a financial interest in a weed-killer sometimes found in drinking water paid for thousands of studies federal regulators are using to assess the herbicide’s health risks, records of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show. Many of these industry-funded studies, which largely support atrazine’s safety, have never been published or subjected to an independent scientific peer review.”

Where do frogs figure into all of this?

The frog, hallmark of the amphibian class, lives on land and water and breathes through its skin. Therefore, disruptions to the environment, be they climate or pollutant related, are often discovered first in amphibians like frogs. This has given the frog the unofficial designation as a signal species, representing how knowledge of environmental effects on the frog can be extrapolated to potential effects on humans in the future.

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