Harmful Chemical Continues to Contaminate Midwest Drinking Water Sources
House Farm Bill Would Protect Atrazine, Not Water Quality
WASHINGTON (September 10, 2007) – New water quality data obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) confirms high levels of Atrazine – a cancer-causing pesticide – in Midwest drinking water supplies.
Environmental Protection Agency data reveals raised Atrazine levels in 94 of 136 water systems tested at the source. Tests were conducted in Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota and Nebraska.
“Atrazine contamination in the Midwest is pervasive, hazardous, and unnecessary,” said Jonathan Kaplan, senior policy specialist with NRDC. “Congress should use the Farm Bill to provide farmers with the tools and incentives they need to maximize pest control alternatives. Pending Farm Bill legislation actually protects the most hazardous pesticides.”
NRDC research shows that new requirements for farm conservation programs introduced in the up-coming Farm Bill would fail to promote safer alternatives to Atrazine. Legislation to reauthorize the Farm Bill, pending in Congress, would prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using these programs to encourage alternatives to harmful pesticides like Atrazine.
NRDC evaluated new Atrazine monitoring data collected by the EPA through two monitoring programs implemented from 2003 to 2006, primarily in Midwest states. Ecological monitoring in 10 states shows that nearly all of 40 monitored watersheds had Atrazine concentrations at levels known to harm aquatic habitat and cause reproductive abnormalities in fish and amphibians.
Between 1998 and 2003, more than 7 million Americans were served drinking water with Atrazine at levels that exceed the current tap water standard. Human exposure to Atrazine has been associated with multiple forms of cancer, including: lung, bladder, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, ovarian, and colon cancer.
Farm Bill legislation approved by the House, expected to be considered by the Senate this month, would make it nearly impossible for the USDA to encourage farmers to use environmentally friendly pesticide choices through conservation programs. NRDC research finds that only three percent of the $800 million paid to farmers in 2005 was allocated to pest-control projects. The allocation was lower --or zero -- in many Midwestern states with pervasive Atrazine contamination.