At a roundtable in Niangua, Missouri, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler sat with farmers and agriculture groups to highlight efforts to provide certainty and predictability to the agricultural community. As part of the event, Wheeler announced the interim decisions for atrazine, propazine, and simazine, which finalize measures to protect human health, mitigate potential ecological risks, and continue to provide America’s farmers with the valuable tools they have come to rely on to control weeds in crops.
After a thorough review of the best available science and carefully considering scientific peer review and public comments, EPA has determined that certain mitigation measures are warranted for these three herbicides in order to address potential human health and ecological risk. Specifically, the agency is requiring the following mitigation measures:
- Reducing the maximum application rate for atrazine and simazine when used on residential turf in order to protect children who crawl or play on treated grass;
- Adding a requirement for irrigation immediately after simazine application to residential turf;
- Requiring additional personal protective equipment for workers who apply atrazine and simazine to reduce occupational risks associated with certain uses;
- Finalizing label requirements for all three triazines to include mandatory spray drift control measures, to minimize pesticide drift into non-target areas, including water bodies;
- Finalizing label directions for herbicide resistance to reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to atrazine.
Kevin Ross, National Corn Growers Association president said, “The EPA released its interim decision on the reregistration of atrazine, a product used annually on approximately 60 percent of U.S. corn acres. Atrazine has undergone years of scientific study and we appreciate the EPA recognizing that it is a safe and effective tool for weed control. Atrazine is instrumental in enabling the use of conservation tillage practices, which ultimately protect more soil from water and wind erosion, conserve moisture, reduce runoff, improve wildlife habitat, and limit output of labor, fuel, and machinery. It is a critical tool in ensuring the long-term sustainability of U.S. agriculture. Today’s announcement, however, does not end the review process for atrazine as it must also undergo an Endangered Species Act review. As a part of that review, EPA must publish a draft biological evaluation of atrazine. NCGA will continue to work with EPA and hold the agency to its promise to use the best available research when drafting and publishing atrazine’s biological evaluation.”
Atrazine, propazine, and simazine are widely used in the United States to control a variety of grasses and broadleaf weeds. Atrazine is an especially effective, affordable, and well-studied herbicide. Twelve meetings of the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel were held to discuss various aspects of atrazine, including cancer and non-cancer effects, potential effects on amphibians, the aquatic plant community level of concern, and surface water monitoring methods. As the second most widely used herbicide in the United States, atrazine is used on about 75 million acres of agricultural crop land every year, including more than half of the Nation’s corn crops. Atrazine is also used on residential lawns and golf courses, particularly in the Southeast.