Atrazine: The EPA-approved, EU-banned chemical in your body right now

Sometimes things happen in life. Cars crash, chips fall, hearts attack. Sometimes children die and it's completely a chance event, one that you can't dwell on finding causes or spend your life answering unanswerable questions like, "why my child"? And then there are events in life that have causes. For example, drunk drivers made the choice to get behind the wheel, so people get angry and form campaigns and make laws. Sometimes a domino falls because it is pushed.

As I have recently learned, the combination of birth defects that claimed my unborn daughter may have had a cause. An herbicide commonly used in the midwest called Atrazine causes similar birth defects to those to which she succumbed. The scary part? Not only is the substance legal (its use has been banned in the EU for nearly a decade), its lobbyists are powerful. Our government is lying to us about our tainted water supply from the effects of this herbicide. Scientists have known for quite some time, as have insiders in the corn industry. It's time you knew.

First, Atrazine is in the water supply. How does it get there? I'll let the EPA tell you in their own words:

"When atrazine is applied during the growing season, water bodies receive episodic and highly variable amounts of atrazine runoff from agricultural fields."

I've been a vegetarian for 22 years. I eat mostly organic and try to make intelligent food choices. I drink mostly filtered water. Even I'm not above the reaches of Atrazine because no amount of Whole Food shopping or intentional living or tin-foil-hat-wearing can protect you from the water supply we all share. Besides, who can really live off the grid in a world of hot summers and swimming pools? In a life that includes restaurants and taking showers? We can't escape our public water supply. I guess we could move to the Amazon and live off rainwater. Have fun finding a doctor or roads out there!

Lest you think I'm just a grieving, hysterical hausfrau looking to pin my circumstances somewhere, anywhere, allow me to first say I'm not 100% sure Atrazine, specifically, caused my daughter's abdominal wall defect or her significant chromosome deletion. However study after study has proven that Atrazine does affect other children in very similars ways, such as causing abdominal wall defects and chromosomal deletion, in addition to brain tumors and cancers of the breast and prostate.

The EPA confirms Atrazine is in the water supply:

"Given [...] the documented presence of atrazine in both drinking water sources and other bodies of water, we determined it appropriate to review the state of the science in light of the new research and to ensure that the agency’s regulatory decisions continue to protect public health and the environment."

I will let the EPA admit Atrazine affects reproduction:

"Reproductive effects are the most sensitive effects observed in atrazine toxicity tests" also, "Change in hormone levels is the most sensitive health effect observed in an extensive battery of atrazine toxicity tests."

(FUN FACT: Atrazine causes frogs to become hermaphrodites, but the party that decided that claim was inconclusive was funded by Syngenta, the overseas manufacturer of  . . . you guessed it! Atrazine!)

I will let the EPA confirm Atrazine is most prevalent in the midwest, where I have lived nearly all my life:

"Currently, an intensive monitoring program to look for atrazine residues in drinking water from approximately 30 community water systems (CWS) is ongoing. These systems, located primarily in the Midwest, are among the most vulnerable to atrazine exposure."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a study on the effects on Atrazine as well:

"Gastroschisis and omphalocele are congenital abdominal wall defects (AWD). Atrazine and nitrates are common agricultural fertilizers"

and concluded:

"Indiana has significantly higher rates of AWD [abdominal wall defects] compared with national rates. Increased atrazine levels correlate with increased incidence of AWD."

Hey, I was born and raised in Indiana! I was drenched head-to-toe in a water park there the weekend I conceived a baby with omphalocele (abdominal wall defect).

I will let the EPA admit they don't give a crap:

"[We] have confirmed that none of the systems have exceeded our level of concern."

This is because the water supplies they tested, the public water "only" contained 37 parts per billion. Tell me, if Science can't tell us any amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, why can it tell us 37ppb is acceptable poison in our drinking water? How big is a human zygote? The answer is a human zygote is tiny! (You learn something every time we talk, don't you?)

Wait. I take that back. The EPA does recognize several US water supplies that do have high enough levels of Atrazine for concern:

"Two Missouri ecological watershed monitoring sites and one Nebraska site have exceeded the agency’s level of concern based on the draft methodology presented to the 2009 FIFRA SAP. The two Missouri sites are in the South Fabius River and Youngs Creek watersheds. The Nebraska site is in the Big Blue River (Upper Gage)."

Do the people who live there know they are in danger? Have there been any arrests for endangering public health? Where are the class action suits for damage caused by this herbicide in that area?  Are those areas quarantined, or are we all connected by the same rivers and water systems as the rest of the country? (News of the duh: the answers to this quiz are maybe, no, nowhere, and we are all connected in the circle of life.)

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But my daughter had a chromosome deletion. What does that have to do with Atrazine? Well, this study on record with the US National Library of Medicine confirms Atrazine causes chromosome aberrations. Maybe the makers of Atrazine, Swiss-based Syngenta, don't know? Maybe Syngenta's innocent because they have no idea? Not exactly. That's why they add a certain antioxident flavanoid to Atrazine in an effort to counteract the chromosome aberration problem. Too bad it doesn't work.

So far my family has only experienced chromosome damage and fetal abdominal wall defects, but is that all the harm Atrazine causes? Who cares about a bunch of fetuses I guess, right? Oh, sorry, I hate to be a buzz kill on this bright morning but Atrazine also causes cancer and brain tumors. One group at most risk are children. That's right, the most common herbicide in the midwest, sanctioned by the EPA and FDA, causes childhood brain cancer and leukemia. I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, kids with cancer were in far off lands and fairytales. Now? I can count on several fingers real life friends of mine who have lost children to cancer. What. The. Fudgepop.

This government was supposed to be by the people, for the people. What happened? When did the profits of corporations trump the wellbeing of citizens in a bizarrely twisted argument of "freedom". As a tax payer, I'm a road driver and a library book reader and public water supply user. That's the deal. We pay taxes, the government organizes public services and oversees their safety.  Why, then, are the publicly funded organizations we trust to keep us safe headed by ex-Monsanto employees?

I know, this is a lot. You feel like throwing your hands up because "everything causes cancer now!" and "what can we eat!" and "where can we go!" Every day it seems like a new study or screaming Facebook friend has a fire alarm about this and that. It's easier to just plug our fingers in our ears and sing LA LA LA because we feel overwhelmed and powerless. I get it. It's why I don't sign every petition or march all day or spend my days hiding in the rainforest under a log.

You can do something about Atrazine. Share this post. Sign this petition I made on Change.org. Don't laugh at it for having one signature. Don't let the EPA tacitly agree it's okay to poison our water supply.

I asked the question recently why people don't know about the horrendous birth defects caused by Atrazine. The answer I got was because it hadn't happened to anyone "important". Maybe I'm not a big deal. I don't care if you ever learn to pronounce my 10-letter last name or forget my face the second you see it, but I want you to know I had another daughter and she was important to me. Her life wasn't nothing.

She was our twin "baby A". She was out little "squirt". She was a little girl we decided to name Ruby and she mattered.
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