Tuesday, September 22, 2020

EPA allows pesticide atrazine and related chemicals to stay on the market — with some new caveats

Widely used herbicide atrazine, along with its cousins propozine and simizine, can stay on the market, but with new restrictions on its use. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the interim decision Friday at a farmer roundtable in Niangua, Missouri, Todd Neeley reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer. Atrazine is the second-most widely used herbicide in the U.S., and is mainly used on corn, sugarcane, sorghum, and landscaping.

The new restrictions are intended to reduce potential harm to human health and the environment; the EPA has found in recent years that atrazine exposure can pose developmental risks to children and reproductive risks to wildlife. The new measures include reducing atrazine and simazine use on residential lawns to protect children who play on them, requiring irrigation immediately after applying simazine to residential turf, and requiring workers who spray the herbicides to wear additional personal protective equipment.

"The agency is finalizing label requirements for all three triazines to include mandatory spray drift control measures, to minimize pesticide drift into non-target areas including water bodies, as well as updating label directions to reduce weed resistance to atrazine," Neeley reports.

The Center for Biological Diversity, a left-leaning nonprofit, plans to file suit against the EPA over the decision. The organization argues that allowing use of triazines at all endangers human health and wildlife, and notes that more than 35 countries have banned or are phasing out use of atrazine. The Center also argues that the EPA essentially modified lab test benchmarks to make atrazine seem safer for humans, and that the old benchmarks would have found atrazine unsafe for use on lawns and turf.

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