Sunday, August 23, 2009


Pesticides and the dangers posed by them in water and soft drinks were burning issues which were debated endlessly in the media for some time in the past and consumers were are still at a loss as to the implications of all the noise raised. One is not sure whether the situation is better to day than it was 5 years ago though GOI never ceases to proclaim that water and soft drinks are safe (probably as long as one does not consume!). Even to day water is no body's business and periodic scare reports are driving consumers to the manufacturers of bottled drinking water as their confidence on the ability of the government to safe guard their so called 'protected' water supplies and ensure avoiding a plethora of water borne diseases.

Atrazine is the latest 'star' hogging the lime light, especially in the US where this weedicide chemical is widely used to the extent of 30 million kg per year. Though the safety agency there does not see any danger, new studies are pointing to the contrary. "New research suggests that atrazine may be dangerous at lower concentrations than previously thought. Recent studies suggest that, even at concentrations meeting current federal standards, the chemical may be associated with birth defects, low birth weights and menstrual problems. Laboratory experiments suggest that when animals are exposed to brief doses of Atrazine before birth, they may become more vulnerable to cancer later".

While EU has banned its use, this weedicide is widely used in 80 countries of the world including India. The limit in water is 0.1 ppb in EU while the US permits up to 3 ppb. Though its half life is limited to 13-260 days, absence of a dependable, regular and systematic monitoring system lulls the authorities to think the situation is not alarming enough to warrant any review! While Atrazine affects adversely amphibian life through its endocrine disruption it is also being implicated in cancer and some epidemiological changes in humans. It is sad there is no reliable information on Atrazine residue in Indian waters though some stray reports indicate it is 1000 times higher than what is permissible. Some thing needs to be done to allay the genuine fears of the citizens regarding this weed killer.


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