Dr. Mercola: Atrazine Contamination: The ‘Gender Bending’ Herbicide

Atrazine, a herbicide used widely has been reported to cause detrimental effects to the environment. It has been estimated that more than 73 million pounds of this herbicide are used for lawns and crops every year. Almost eighty percent of all the herbicides used in Vermont are based on the compound, Atrazine.

Most of its research has been based on the ‘Gender-Bending’ effect on the life in the sea including fish, turtles and frogs. A recent testing has revealed that 85 percent of the male smallmouth bass are carrying eggs in 19 American wildlife refuges and about 27 percent were found to be intersex. Scientists claimed that this herbicide may have equally harmful effects for humans as well.

Atrazine had been banned in Europe in 2005 owing to the environmental and the health damages associated. The herbicide has been in news as the man risk for water contamination. It lowers immune function, contributes to infections and various diseases. According to National Geographic, "Over the past decade, feminized male fish have been discovered in 37 species in lakes and rivers throughout North America, Europe and other parts of the world. Experts say the new discovery in protected wildlife refuges is worrisome because it suggests that pollution may be even more pervasive than previously thought. There are no truly untouched areas. I think the take away here is that everything we do, everything we use or put on the land, ends up in the water at some point, says Luke Iwanowicz, a U.S. Geological Survey fish researcher who led the wildlife refuge study."


The extent of human exposure is currently unknown as there are no identifiable sources of pollution of water from this herbicide. National Geographic said, "Exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals in drinking water, food and household products have been linked to health problems in people too, including reduced fertility, developmental delays in children and some cancers."

Most of the water pollutants can be removed by the water filters. But for Atrazine, one must look on the filter if it is certified to remove the herbicide. A good quality carbon filter may remove it effectively. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council NRDC, "Consumers should make sure that the filter they choose is certified by NSF International to meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard 53 for VOC (volatile organic compounds) reduction and therefore capable of significantly reducing many health-related contaminants, including atrazine and other pesticides."

Exposure to atrazine may lower the immunity but if someone has been exposed, one must eat fermented foods, for example, Kimchi. It has been postulated that the lactic acid bacteria in the fermented foods may break down the herbicide. Antioxidants like lycopene found in fruits and vegetables may also help in fighting the toxic effects of Atrazine.




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