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U.S. EPA Reapproves Atrazine

Agency allows continued use of common herbicide with new requirements

After reviewing the risks of atrazine for more than 7 years, the US Environmental Protection Agency says the widely used herbicide can stay on the market with some new restrictions. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced this final decision on Sept. 18, during an event in Missouri attended by farm-group leaders and local lawmakers.

Atrazine is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the US. Farmers spray it on crops such as corn, sorghum, and sugarcane to control grasses and broadleaf weeds. Consumers apply it to residential lawns to kill weeds. Atrazine persists in the environment and is a widespread drinking water contaminant. The herbicide and its breakdown products are linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity in people and aquatic organisms.

The EPA concluded in 2018 that combined exposure to atrazine from food, drinking water, and residential lawns poses developmental risks to children. In 2016, the agency found reproductive risks to wildlife.

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