EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Friday declared atrazine, propazine, and simazine safe for continued use in controlling resilient weeds.
“Today’s news provides much needed regulatory certainty for farmers during a time when few things are certain,” said Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO Gary Marshall, who chairs the Triazine Network, a coalition of agricultural organizations that advocates for science-based regulatory decisions. “We thank the agency on behalf of the farmers who rely on atrazine to fight problematic weeds and employ conservation tillage methods to reduce soil erosion and improve water and wildlife habitat. “
“The benefits of atrazine in agriculture are high, so these new protections give our nation’s farmers more clarity and certainty concerning proper use," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in announcing the interim decision.
Atrazine ranks second in widely used herbicides that help farmers control weeds. Atrazine has been used for more than 60 years and is the most researched herbicide in history. The Sept. 18 announcement concludes the registration review process where EPA is required to periodically re-evaluate existing pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
At this step in the process, EPA has determined that certain mitigation measures are warranted for these three herbicides in order to address potential human health and ecological risk. Specifically, the agency is requiring the following mitigation measures:
- Reducing the maximum application rate for atrazine and simazine when used on residential turf in order to protect children who crawl or play on treated grass;
- Adding a requirement for irrigation immediately after simazine application to residential turf;
- Requiring additional personal protective equipment for workers who apply atrazine and simazine to reduce occupational risks associated with certain uses;
- Finalizing label requirements for all three triazines to include mandatory spray drift control measures, to minimize pesticide drift into non-target areas, including water bodies;
- Finalizing label directions for herbicide resistance to reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to atrazine.
The next step for the triazines is a draft biological evaluation required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is expected to be published in October.
“The Endangered Species Act review will be key to the future of atrazine as well as other crop protection tools. Moving forward, we remain vigilant in ensuring the agencies involved utilize high-quality, scientific studies,” Marshall said. “The EPA has said they will utilize the best available research, first in a letter the Triazine Network in 2019 and again today. Our stance has always been sound, credible science must win. We appreciate these commitments, and EPA must hold true to them in the ESA evaluation.”
Approved for use 1958, atrazine has been extensively reviewed by EPA and others over the decades and across administrations. The final ESA assessment is slated to be released in 2021. Atrazine, propazine and simazine are widely used in the United States to control a variety of grasses and broadleaf weeds.