Atrazine is a herbicide, at least 600 tonnes of which is used annually in Australia in industrial-scale logging and some cropping. If the federal government achieves its 20:20 vision for forestry targets, that figure could climb to 5000 tonnes by 2020. Yet Atrazine "poses no undur hazard to most users" according to the Australina Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
Most countries have a "Human Health Level" which triggers an alert for chemical contamination. The HHL for Atrazine in the EU (before it was banned) was 0.5 parts per billion. The US level is 3ppb and the Australian level is 40ppb.
The EPA has spent the past five years reviewing atrazine use. Unitl 2003, its reported findings suggested it would, like the EU, ban it. In 2003 it concluded "Atrazine has been associated with causing imbalances in hormone levels in laboratory animals, possibly disrupting reproductive and developmental processes."
Then in late 2003, far from banning it, the EPA downgraded its classification, stunning the scientific community.
It emerged that the toxicologist Ronald Kendall, whose company Ecorisk was employed by Syngenta (manufacturer of Atrazine) to test Atrazine, was also on the boards of the two key EPA committess deciding on the fate of the chemical.
However, anouther expert, Tyrone Hayes, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted the first two trials for Ecorisk which found Atrazine to be chemically castrating of amphibians - at 400 times less exposure than the APVMA's health level.
This is really scary shit.