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Into the Mouths of Babes

Thursday, July 1, 1999

Into the Mouths of Babes

Bottle-fed Infants at Risk from Atrazine in Tap Water

View and Download the report here: Into the Mouths of Babes

In a little-noticed decision earlier this year, the EPA’s top scientific committee on children’s health declared that protections against the toxic weed killer atrazine in food and water should not be considered safe for infants and children. According to the Office of Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee:

“When EPA established the tolerances and 1991 drinking water standards for atrazine, children’s differential expo- sure was not considered and children’s differential susceptibility was not fully evalu- ated” (Federal Register, Feb. 3 1999).

This conclusion directly contradicts EPA’s public position that pesticide levels in food and tap water are safe for infants and children. Precisely because the current standards do not protect children, and because millions of children are exposed, atrazine standards were chosen as one of five high priority regulations for review under President Clinton’s Executive Order 13045. This order directs EPA to ensure that all regulations issued by the agency protect the health of infants and children.

Atrazine, the most heavily used herbicide in the United States, is a cancer-causing weed killer applied to 50 million acres of corn each year. After it is applied each spring, it runs off cornfields and through drinking water plants into the tap water of millions of Mid- western homes. While many larger water utilities suppress atrazine levels through special treatments, toxic traces remain in finished water.

To better understand the risks resulting from the EPA’s failure to protect infants and children from atrazine, we analyzed more than 127,000 tap water test results for the years 1993 through 1998, obtained from state health and environmental officials in seven Midwestern states: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.

View and Download the report here: Into the Mouths of Babes