Atrazine to be banned in Hawai‘i

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the endocrine-disrupting pesticide atrazine will be banned in Hawai‘i and in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the North Mariana Islands.

Use of the cancer-linked pesticide, which is banned across much of the world, will also be prohibited along U.S. roadsides and on conifers on public and private lands, including forests and Christmas-tree farms.

The pesticide’s largest manufacturer, Syngenta, agreed to the prohibitions in the wake of a legal agreement between the EPA and the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America. The agreement also requires the agency to complete an analysis of atrazine’s impacts on the nation’s endangered species.

“This is amazing news for the people of Hawai‘i and all of our fragile flora, fauna and marine species, including the highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal,” said Maxx Phillips, Hawai‘i director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Atrazine is toxic to coral reefs and endangered species. It should have never been sprayed here in the first place. With this win, we can now focus on recovering our native and endangered species from other threats,” said Phillips.

In 2012, some 77,000 pounds of atrazine were used in Hawai‘i. Atrazine metabolites were the most-commonly-detected pesticide contaminants in surface water samples on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu in 2016 and 2017, present in two-thirds of all water samples collected by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Research has linked atrazine to birth defects and cancer in people, and even miniscule doses can chemically castrate frogs.

It has been banned or is being phased out in more than 35 countries but is the second-most-commonly-used herbicide in the United States.

A 2009 survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that atrazine was the third-most-highly-used herbicide on Christmas-tree farms, accounting for more than 22,000 pounds each year in just six surveyed states. In Oregon, atrazine use on forest lands has generated deep concern among communities that fear for their health and the health of aquatic animals.

“This is a massive victory for the people exposed to this dangerous endocrine disruptor simply because they live near fields or forests sprayed with it,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“The last thing anyone imagines, when they live near a forest or bring a Christmas tree home to their living room, is that they’re signing up for atrazine exposure. Now they won’t have to, and neither will the salmon, frogs and fish,” Donley said.

The EPA’s agreement with conservation groups to assess atrazine’s harm to endangered species came after an earlier preliminary risk assessment found that the amount of the pesticide released into the environment in the United States is likely to be harming most species of protected plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles.

Syngenta’s decision to voluntarily agree to prohibitions on atrazine comes as a 2021 deadline approaches by which the EPA must complete an analysis of the pesticide’s impacts on endangered species, as required by the agreement with the two conservation groups.

Prohibitions were also announced for a similar herbicide, simazine, in the same states and on forests and roadsides. But although simazine poses the same toxic threats to people and wildlife as atrazine, it will still be allowed for use on Christmas trees, an action the Center for Biological Diversity strongly opposes and will continue to fight.

4 Comments
  1. Thank God September 30, 2020 3:41 am Reply

    Mahalo Ke Akua


  2. Population Control September 30, 2020 6:19 am Reply

    Population control is real folks.


  3. Valerie September 30, 2020 11:23 am Reply

    Finally. Why are we so slow banning a know carcinogen when the rest of world is way ahead of us?


  4. ramon h MARTINEZ September 30, 2020 9:25 pm Reply

    thats hilarious i read youre piece thats great stop spraying chemicals ,, so today i was driving to lihue around noon and what do i see a flashing lights on a truck with a man on top of a truch as they drive along side of the highway, spraying the tallover growing weeds,just wearing a light mask, i called the county they said thats the state crew,i call the state office and i ask them are you folks still spraying round up on the highwas ,and his answer was yes but its diluted, i started to wander where will all that poison may be gone after a good rain,all the way down to the ocean and contaminating everything on the way down ,reservoirs, ducks,talapia shimp from the streams,andducks,nenebirds and many more ,reefs turtles and seals and the bigest is us the beings of this beautiful place couldnt we do something about ie help us..


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