|Ellison Observes 40th Anniversary of Earth Day - Introduces Ban on Toxic Pesticide|
|April 21, 2010|
Washington, D.C. -- Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) observed the 40th anniversary of Earth Day by introducing a bill to ban a weed-killing agricultural pesticide known as atrazine due to its documented toxicity. The 5th District Congressman’s bill precedes next week’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scientific Advisory Panel on the human effects of atrazine in drinking water.
Last year, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report linking atrazine to adverse health effects in humans and animals. Specifically, atrazine is associated with infertility, low birth weight, and abnormal infant development in humans. Despite these harmful linkages, atrazine provides only moderate agricultural benefits. For example, the US Department of Agriculture estimates that an atrazine ban would result in crop losses of only 1.19 percent.
“Banning atrazine is the most effective way for us to keep our rivers and drinking water safe from toxic pesticides and this bill is a great first step toward achieving that,” stated NRDC attorney Mae Wu.
The pesticide is currently banned in the European Union and faces calls for greater regulatory scrutiny in the United States.
Atrazine is the most commonly detected pesticide in US waters and the most prevalent found in Minnesota waters. The U.S. Geological Survey found atrazine in approximately 75 percent of stream waters and 40 percent of ground waters sampled near agricultural areas. An estimated 33 million Americans have been exposed to atrazine through drinking water.
“On this 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, I can think of no better tribute to our planet and our people than protecting it from known harmful chemicals,” Ellison stated. “No one should ever have to worry if the water they drink is making them sick or preventing fertility. Forty years of good, hard environmental work has not eliminated our need to be vigilant in removing toxins like atrazine from our waterways,” the Fifth District Congressman concluded.