Norflurazon - CAS No. 27314-13-2
Study finds herbicides from runoff in river. Agriculture largely to blame for carcinogens
By Kevin Lollar. (Florida)

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Pesticides in the News

October 5, 2005

Study finds herbicides from runoff in river
Agriculture largely to blame for carcinogens


SARASOTA — The Caloosahatchee River is receiving an unhealthy dose of herbicides, including potential carcinogens, from upstream, a Naples chemist said Tuesday at Mote Marine Laboratory's fourth Charlotte Harbor Conference.

Scientists from Mote, universities, research organizations and governmental agencies have completed the fourth year of a multiyear study of virtually every aspect of the harbor.

Chemist Judith Hushon, a consulting volunteer at Chemical Consulting Associates, analyzed South Florida Water Management District data from 1999 to the present and found that five toxic herbicides are in the Caloosahatchee.

The herbicides atrazine, bromacil, norflurazon and simazine might cause cancer in humans; the fifth herbicide, ametryn, is not considered a potential carcinogen but can cause liver damage.

Some of the herbicides come from golf courses and residential lawns, but by far the greatest quantity comes from agriculture.


"These herbicides are showing up in the water year after year," Hushon said. "Farmers use them to kill weeds and kill their crops at the end of the season. It's not a fluke. We see them every year."

While the four possible cancer-causing herbicides are used on citrus and vegetables, ametryn is used exclusively on sugar, Hushon said.

All of the area's cane fields, however, lie south of Lake Okeechobee, which raised a question: How does it get into the Caloosahatchee?

"Sugar cane can sit in water, but the fields are diked, and the growers don't want the dikes to break," Hushon said. "So they pump the water back into the lake, and it comes down the Caloosahatchee."

Hushon suggested that the agricultural industry be forced to cut its use of the herbicides and possibly be required to treat water from their fields.

"At this point, I'd be pretty worried," Hushon said. "You get your drinking water from the river, but they probably don't make it through water treatment. However people go swimming, water skiing, windsurfing and sailing in the river.

"So don't fall in. If you do, keep your mouth shut." ...

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