EPA finds two widely used pesticides harm majority of endangered species

Atrazine and glyphosate are both causing severe harm to many of the plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.

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Two widely used pesticides are likely harming more than 1,000 of the nation’s endangered plans and animal, a new Environmental Protection Agency evaluation determined. Atrazine and glyphosate are both causing severe harm to many of the plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The EPA’s evaluation will “now go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service in the final step of the consultation process to determine what on-the-ground conservation measures are needed to minimize harm to these species and ensure these pesticides do not push any endangered species towards extinction,” according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

“It’s no surprise that these chemical poisons are causing severe harm to imperiled wildlife since U.S. use exceeds 70 million pounds of atrazine and 300 million pounds of glyphosate every year,” Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “It’s long past time for atrazine to be banned, and the EPA needs to crack down on the reckless overuse of glyphosate. Without real conservation action, these pesticides will continue to push our most endangered wildlife closer to extinction.”

Both atrazine, an endocrine-disrupting pesticide, and glyphosate, a cancer-causing herbicide, were re-approved by the EPA for widespread use across the U.S. It is estimated that “hundreds of millions of pounds of glyphosate are used each year in the United States, mostly in agriculture” and also other non-agricultural areas such as lawn care, according to the Center for Biodiversity. Atrazine, which is banned in more than 35 countries, is know to be a widespread pollutant of groundwater and drinking water and linked to increased risk of cancer. The pesticide can “chemically castrate male frogs at extremely low concentrations,” according to scientific reasearch.

While the EPA banned atrazine in Hawaii, on forests, on Christmas tree farms and along roadsides, it remains the second-most used herbicide in the United States after glyphosate, according to the Center for Biodiversity.

The evaluation, which was put off for decades by the EPA, was forced under the the terms of a 2016 legal agreement with the Center and Pesticide Action Network. To read the EPA’s released Biological Evaluation for atrazine click here and for glyphosate click here.

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