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David Sparks Ph.d Water is the Connection
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: December 22, 2017

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According to the website Atrazinelovers.com, atrazine is an herbicide primarily used on corn and is the most common chemical contaminant of ground and surface water in the United States. It is a potent endocrine disruptor with ill effects in wildlife, laboratory animals and humans. Atrazine chemically castrates and feminizes wildlife and reduces immune function in both wildlife and laboratory rodents. This chemical induces breast and prostate cancer, retards mammary development, and induces abortion in laboratory rodents. Studies in human populations and cell and tissue studies suggest that atrazine poses similar threats to humans.

Sharon Selvaggio of the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides included atrazine with a number of pesticides and herbicides that are poisoning our water. Pesticides are the most frequently detected contaminants in the streams of Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley. The region, an agricultural powerhouse and home to 70% of Oregon’s residents, once saw runs of over a million Pacific salmon and steelhead each year. Water is the Connection, a guide released by Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), helps growers and other pesticide users understand which pesticides are problematic to salmon and steelhead populations or the insects they need for food. The guide explains how to use alternative approaches or best management practices to keep the pesticides out of the water.


“We all want clean, pure water,” says Sharon Selvaggio, NCAP Healthy Wildlife and Water Program Director. “Growers and irrigation districts highlighted in the guide show how they’ve used alternative approaches for managing insects, weeds and disease. And when pesticides are used, simple actions – like planting trees on the edges of fields or preventing drift – can have a powerful impact on water quality.”


Though the guide is focused on farming in Oregon’s Willamette Basin, the strategies discussed are relevant for protecting water quality for a wide range of crops through the Northwest and beyond.


Water is the Connection and fact sheets for eight pesticides that pose particular risk to salmon and steelhead are free and available at www.pesticide.org/water_is_the_connection. The project was sponsored by the Oregon Pesticide Stewardship Partnership Program.


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