A new study shows the herbicide atrazine may be associated with feminization of male frogs. What should the appropriate response be? Because one criticism is that the results have not been repeated elsewhere, then it seems important to do so, as soon as possible.

While concerns regarding atrazine focus on water, one question I have is whether atrazine (or its metabolic by-products) is present in the corn fed to hogs, or which we consume. Is that a concern? Maybe people are barking up the wrong stalk.

Results of this new study are getting a lot of press (e.g., at the Washington Post, here). One important concern about this chemical is that it is persistent. As noted here,

Atrazine is a pervasive environmental contaminant(61). It is strongly persistent and is one of the most significant water pollutants in rain, surface, marine, and ground water(62). Its persistence (it has a half-life of 125 days in sandy soils(63)) and mobility in some types of soils because it is not easily absorbed by soil particles(64), means it often causes contamination of surface and ground waters(65). In the US for example, it has been found in the groundwater of all 36 river basins studied by the US Geological Survey(66) (USGS) and the USGS estimates that persistence in deep lakes may exceed 10 years.

The author of the study, Tyrone Hayes, a professor at UC Berkeley, has been working on atrazine for a while. Here is  an interview with him back in 2006.


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