Scary Truths About Chemicals In Water And What To Do About It
Your health may be in harm’s way. The reason? Your drinking water. The organization charged with protecting us from environmental chemicals is called the EPA. And it is falling down on the job big time. Not only that, but the EPA seems to be suffering from a bad case of schizophrenia. As a result, your drinking water is contaminated.
The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself. I’ll tell you how.
The second most commonly-used pesticide in the United States is called atrazine. It’s a “weed killer” that is used in a variety of applications. It is used extensively on corn and related plants. It’s also used on sugarcane and GMO canola. It’s also used extensively on golf courses and even on lawns. Heck, it’s even used on a lot of Christmas trees!
The unfortunate thing about atrazine is that it is persistent. It has been known to stick around in the soil and water for years after application. And as a result, a lot of it is getting into our drinking water.
How Bad Is The Problem?
The EPA readily admits that the amount of atrazine in surface water is “concerning”. But there’s something much more concerning. By the EPA’s own estimates, atrazine is now found in 94 percent of U.S. drinking water! That’s not all. The EPA even found that the degree of contamination in many cases exceeded the levels allowed by law.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like the idea of drinking pesticides. Not even if it’s just a little bit. But unfortunately the EPA bows to the concerns of corporate interests. It doesn’t seem to care about public health. As a result, our drinking water supplies have harmful levels of atrazine (as well as other contaminants).
In Europe they’ve already wised up. Governments there have banned atrazine specifically because of the persistent contamination of water supplies. They knew that having persistent pesticides in the water supply isn’t a good idea. But the EPA hasn’t figured that out yet.
What Are The Effects?
Now I don’t want to overstate the danger. And I don’t want to scare you too much. Sure, it’s true that atrazine is found in 94 percent of all water supplies. That’s bad news. Still, the actual amounts found are still pretty small. But you really ought to be scared just a little bit about what’s going on with the lax laws and water contamination. And here’s why: atrazine is bad news for health, even in small amounts.
Here’s where the EPA is schizophrenic. In 2006 the EPA claimed that the risks of pesticide residues pose no harm. But then in 2007 the organization stated that atrazine is an endocrine disrupter. Now, of course, in the year that passed between 2006 and 2007 perhaps new research came to light to cause the EPA to change their tune. But then in 2009 the EPA released a statement saying that there are no dangers associated with atrazine.
Let’s be clear about what it means for a substance to be an endocrine disrupter. That means that atrazine can alter hormone levels. And it can do so quite dramatically, even producing changes in sexual development during puberty in children.
In amphibians atrazine has such strong endocrine disrupting properties that it can actually make male frogs turn into females at the levels found in surface water. While it isn’t fair to generalize the effects on amphibians to humans, the face is as men we should be concerned. Any chemical that can cause male frogs to turn into females is unlikely to be good for us.
Powerful Lobbies Keeping You In The Dark
The reality is that atrazine has been proven to be dangerous to health. As I already stated, Europe has banned the chemical. And numerous studies have demonstrated that it has significant adverse effects on animals and humans.
So why is atrazine still being used? The simple answer is that the chemical companies that produce pesticides have powerful lobbies. The not only influence legislation. They write it and hand it over to politicians to sign into law. The chemical companies are protected by their money and their political influences. And they are conspiring to keep you in the dark.
A class action suit was brought against Syngenta, the maker of atrazine. The case lasted 8 years and was finally settled in 2012. Syngenta settled, agreeing to pay $105 million for water cleanup costs. However, Syngenta refused to acknowledge any wrong-doing. And, importantly, Syngenta continues to manufacture and aggressively market atrazine. That $105 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the billions per year that Syngenta stands to lose in atrazine sales.
Investigators found that during the court case Syngenta spent a lot of money trying to discredit all the plaintiffs and even the judge in the case. The company hired private investigators to dig up dirt on individuals. The company was playing dirty - a desperate move to try and protect profits at the expense of our health.
What You Can Do
The bad news is that 94 percent of us have atrazine in our water supply. The good news is that we can significantly reduce the amount of atrazine we are exposed to. And we can do it with some simple steps.
First off, it may be useful to determine your risk of atrazine exposure in your water. If you live almost anywhere in the eastern part of the country, the chances are that you have atrazine in your water. Those living in remote locations who get their water from deep wells are probably safe. But anyone whose water supply is surface water is guaranteed to have atrazine in the water. And the U.S. Geological survey has found that even most groundwater supplies (a.k.a. wells) in agricultural areas are contaminated. So realistically, only those living far away from agriculture (and golf courses) who get their water from deep wells are likely to be safe.
For everyone else, the good news is that a carbon filter will remove most of the atrazine from water. Even the cheap pitcher filters have been found to remove at least 80 percent of atrazine. Some people make the mistake of buying expensive bottled water. But what most people don’t know is that there are no laws regarding bottled water quality. As a result, a lot of bottled water is even more contaminated than your tap water! So don’t make that mistake. A simple filter will work better and be much less expensive.
If you are on a budget, then a pitcher filter or a countertop filter to filter your drinking and cooking water can dramatically reduce your atrazine exposure as well as removing plenty of other possible contaminants. That’s a pretty modest investment for significant health benefits.
Of course, water that you consume is the largest source of atrazine exposure from water. So filter your drinking and cooking water is a must. But for those who can afford it, a whole house filter may offer greater protection. That’s because atrazine on the skin from showers or bathing can also post as another (lesser) risk.
You don’t need to drop a ton of cash on a filter. Don’t fall for the hype regarding many of the more expensive filters. Sure, some of them offer ultra pure water. But a common, relatively inexpensive carbon filter will remove enough of the contaminants to be good enough. That can make a big difference in your health over time.