Jul 30, 2009
New research linking atrazine to hormone disruption
The pesticide atrazine, found in surface and ground water in many U.S. states, alters the genes of male rats that control hormone production, according to new research published in Toxicological Sciences. Environmental Health News summarized the science: "Rats were fed two higher doses of atrazine, 50 and 200 micrograms per kilogram body weight. Atrazine reduced the expression of several key genes involved in the production of steroid hormones, which affects levels of the androgens important for male development and reproduction. The exposure lowered testosterone levels at the higher dose and prostate size at both doses in the male rats." The research adds to growing scientific evidence pointing to human and ecological health harms associated with atrazine, including hormonal disruption, neural damage, reproductive disorders, spontaneous abortion and cancers. The majority of atrazine is produced and marketed by Syngenta, a Swiss-based company. Atrazine is banned for use in the European Union, including Syngenta's home, Switzerland, due to widespread and unpreventable water contamination. The herbicide remains the second most widely used pesticide in the U.S., with communities in the Midwest facing highest levels of exposure in their groundwater. The law firm Korein Tillery is suing Syngenta and other atrazine manufacturers on behalf of an Illinois water provider, charging that that atrazine is harmful to humans in drinking water.