EPA Begins New Evaluation Of Atrazine

EPA is launching a comprehensive new evaluation of the herbicide atrazine to determine its effects on humans. At the end of this process, the agency will decide whether to revise its current risk assessment of the herbicide and whether new restrictions are necessary.

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One of the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the U.S., atrazine can be applied before and after planting to control broadleaf and grassy weeds. EPA will evaluate the pesticide’s potential cancer and non-cancer effects on humans. Included in this new evaluation will be the most recent studies on atrazine and its potential association with birth defects, low birth weight, and premature births.

To be certain that the best science possible is used in its atrazine human health risk assessment and ensure transparency, EPA will seek advice from the independent Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) established under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

EPA will engage the SAP to evaluate the human health effects of atrazine over the coming year. Below is the timeline:

November 2009: EPA will present SAP its plan for the new atrazine evaluation.
February 2010: EPA will present and seek scientific peer review of its proposed plan for incorporating population studies into the atrazine risk assessment.
April 2010: EPA will present and seek peer review of its evaluation of atrazine non-cancer effects based on animal laboratory toxicology studies, selection of safety factors in the risk assessment, and the sampling design currently used to monitor drinking water in community water systems.
September 2010: EPA will present and seek peer review of its evaluation of atrazine cancer and non-cancer effects based on animal toxicology studies and epidemiology studies. This review is intended to include the most recent results from the National Cancer Institute’s Agricultural Health Study, anticipated for publication in 2010.

At the conclusion of this process, EPA will ask the SAP to review atrazine’s potential effects on amphibians and aquatic ecosystems. The SAP meetings will be open to the public.

For more information on atrazine, go to www.epa.gov/pesticides/reregistration/atrazine/atrazine_update.htm. For additional information on SAP meetings, visit www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/index.htm.