Atrazine most famously causes male tadpoles to develop into reproductively functional females, when grown in the lab equivalent of agricultural ditch water. Thus, atrazine and has complex effects on hormones and sensitive tissues (it is an “endocrine disrupting chemical or EDC). For example, atrazine can increase risks of cancer in estrogen sensitive tissues such as the breast and ovaries.
Atrazine is used commonly to kill weeds in corn fields, and is commonly found in Canadian water. It was banned in Europe in 2003 due to widespread groundwater contamination, which should trigger a special review in Canada. Eventually, encouraged by a lawsuit the PMRA conducted the legally required review. With time running out and planting season looming, on March 31, 2017 atrazine was re-registered based only on limited data and high permitted levels in groundwater, and the same day a new special review was commenced. No explanations have been offered, but the re-registration meant another year of atrazine in Canada’s fields, food and water.
Stay tuned for more news on atrazine!