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Warning: Crop Farmers, Municipalities, Consumers Atrazine May Pose Huge Risk

Warning: Crop Farmers, Municipalities, Consumers Atrazine May Pose Huge Risk

Atrazine may pose a significant health risk to people. And, it may hurt them by something as simple as drinking a glass of tap water.

Farmers, the weeds you kill with atrazine may cost you more than the weeds that would have survived cultivation without it.

Recently released high-profile news reports that atrazine found in many municipal water supplies, particularly in corn-producing areas, is suspected for an association with low birth weights, birthing disorders, and possible delayed-onset cancers.

The shocking news story left the US EPA reeling. Its newly-appointed leadership responded by making it clear atrazine is a prominent focus of EPA concern.

Consumers

Consumers, your remedy is relatively simple. First, demand that atrazine levels in your municipal water supply be disclosed immediately.

Second, filter your drinking water. A simple filtration system—available in many retail department stores and most hardware stores—is believed sufficient to help considerably.

Women of child-bearing age, before and during pregnancy, should be particularly careful.

Municipalities

Get ahead of the atrazine problems. Warn the public if levels in your plant are above, or intermittently above, EPA maximum permissible levels. Post the news on your municipal website. Issue a press release. Repeat the process several times.

Put the topic on the agenda for your municipal governing body to consider and discuss publicly. Make getting below the federal limit an immediate priority and report your progress.

Write a letter to the EPA and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. Request the most current information about dangers posed by atrazine and solutions available to resolve problems with it.

Farmers

Farmers, you have the most difficult problem to resolve. First, you may have atrazine in your rural water supply. It could be a health threat to your family. Check it out.

Filter your drinking water. Pay attention to the news.

But, there is more you must consider. You have to contend with the Clean Water Act. The CWA is a federal statute. It imposes strict liability on one who releases pollutants into the waters of the United States. Traditionally, this term meant open streams. But, there is no assurance that waters of the United States, a very broad term under the law, will not also include ground water pollution where ground water can be proven to find its way to the surface. Eventually, all ground water overtops, forming lakes, seeping into rivers, and passing to the sea.

Your CWA liability can be very significant. You could be held responsible for a fraction of pollution clean-up costs, or damages attributable to atrazine. For example, if 400 farmers form one watershed, and all use atrazine, liability may be apportioned among the 400 on the basis of acreage, usage records, or in some other way approximating actual contributions to the excessive levels of atrazine in the watershed.

The clean-up liability may be simple. Halting atrazine’s use may do the trick.

The real exposure risk is the one to human health. Be cautious. A ubiquitous herbicide like atrazine could turn out to pose as much trouble for the people who use it as asbestos posed for industry. Who would have thought asbestos was a health risk when it revolutionized the construction industry with its insulating qualities and its durability?

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