EPA Marks Three Herbicide Active Ingredients Safe, Including Atrazine

( REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson )

Atrazine, propazine and simazine are safe to use according to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The agency announced its interim decision regarding these herbicides Friday, answering questions for farmers across the U.S. as atrazine is the No. 2 most used herbicide.

“Today’s decision is another example of the Trump Administration taking action in support of America’s farmers—one of our strongest allies in our mission to protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The benefits of atrazine in agriculture are high, so these new protections give our nation’s farmers more clarity and certainty concerning proper use.”

This interim decision is a major milestone according to the Triazine Network, a coalition of agricultural organizations that advocate for science-based regulatory decisions.

EPA did provide these changes to use for triazines:

  • Reduce maximum application rates for atrazine and simazine when used on residential turf.
  • Irrigation will be required immediately after application for simazine on residential turf.
  • Applicators will be required to wear additional personal protective equipment when applying atrazine and simazine to reduce occupational risk.
  • Final label requirements for all three triazines will include spray drift control measures to minimize drift into non-target areas.
  • Label directions will include more information about herbicide resistance to reduce the number of weeds becoming resistant to atrazine.

“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 in a recent press release. “We appreciate today’s announcement from EPA Administrator Wheeler. 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.”

Friday’s announcement concludes the registration review process, which is required periodically according to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The chemicals will need to undergo a biological evaluation that is required by the Endangered Species Act. This is expected to be published in October.

“This isn’t the last review of atrazine. In fact, 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,” stated Marshall. “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.” 

Atrazine has been on the market since 1958 and the final Endangered Species Act assessment is slated to be released in 2021.