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Oregon’s Governor Orders Study for Dangerous Herbicide Detected in People

After a research professor at Oregon’s Emery University found atrazine and 2,4-D in the urine of 21 residents in the Triangle Lake region west of Eugene, Gov. John Kitzhaber has directed state health officials to determine the cause of this exposure.

Although banned in the European Union, atrazine is still one of the most popular herbicides in the world, with 76 million pounds applied each year. A known hormone-disruptor, Atrazine has been shown to reduce sperm count in men and is particularly dangerous to the brain and sexual organ development of developing fetuses. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb have been shown to alter the development of sex characteristics in male frogs. Atrazine is also a suspected carcinogen.

Like atrazine, 2,4-D is cheaply manufactured and therefore one of the most commonly used herbicides in this country, often found in lawn and garden herbicide mixtures such as Killex. It is a carcinogen that was used in the now infamous Agent Orange. Like atrazine, it’s a hormone-disruptor that affects estrogen and testosterone levels, thyroid, prostate cancer and reproductive abnormalities. It’s also a neurotoxin linked in animal studies to side effects like brain cell death, Parkinson’s-like tremors, delays in brain development and abnormal behavior patterns. A 1990 study of farmers in Nebraska, even when adjusting for exposure to other chemicals, found that 2,4-D exposure substantially increased the risk of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Triangle Lake area resident Day Owen and a group of activists called the Pitchfork Rebellion have been complaining for more than seven years about the possibility that herbicides being aerially sprayed on nearby private forests may be drifting onto their land.

It wasn’t until an April meeting of the forestry board, when the group presented proof of chemical exposure, that the state agreed to take a closer look.

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