Center for Biological Diversity

Help Retire a Persistent Poison

California red-legged frog
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We now have a chance to end use of the toxic pesticide atrazine -- for good.
The Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to ban this widely used weed-killer, which is linked to significant human and wildlife health concerns, including birth defects, fertility problems and certain cancers.

Atrazine has been banned in the European Union since 2004, but 80 million pounds are applied in the United States each year. This dangerous chemical is one of the most widespread contaminants of groundwater, surface water and drinking water nationwide. An abundance of scientific literature on the harmful effects of atrazine has been published by agency and university scientists across the country, including compelling evidence that atrazine chemically castrates male frogs at concentrations 30 times lower than the EPA claims are "safe."

The EPA is accepting public comments for one month. More than 60,000 supporters of the Center and other advocacy groups and 40 prominent scientists have already weighed in supporting a ban. Send your comments to the EPA today.

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Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor, a chemical that interferes with natural hormone functions, affecting the reproduction, development and growth of fish and wildlife, as well as humans. Atrazine has been shown to cause complete sex reversal in male frogs at very low concentrations. Studies by Dr. Tyrone Hayes at the University of California have demonstrated that atrazine is an endocrine disruptor that "assaults male sexual development," interfering with reproduction by chemically castrating and feminizing male frogs. Atrazine is linked to reproductive defects in fish and prostate and breast cancer in laboratory rodents. It also contributes to increased prostate cancer, decreased sperm count, and high risk of breast cancer in humans. Atrazine is extremely persistent in the environment; it's still detectable in France 15 years after its last usage there.

Atrazine is produced by Syngenta, the world's largest pesticide company, which reported more than $11 billion in revenues in 2010. After a recent New York Times investigation found unusual spikes in the atrazine content of drinking water, 43 water agencies in six Midwestern states sued Syngenta to force them to pay for removing the harmful chemical from their drinking water, and 16 Midwestern cities near agricultural fields have banded together to file another lawsuit against Syngenta for failing to alert them of atrazine's presence in their drinking water at unsafe levels.

Recent Center for Biological Diversity legal victories have restricted atrazine use in habitats for the Delta smelt and the California red-legged frog. Now the petition to ban atrazine could allow us to ban this toxic contaminant across the United States.

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California red-legged frog courtesy Flickr Commons/Greg The Busker.

Please take action by November 14, 2011.

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