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CULT: Chemicals

From: Judyhunt1@aol.com

Talkers, this article was in a health newsletter I receive.  In view of the 
recent postings about the pros and cons of using chemical 
pesticides/herbicides, thought you all might find this interesting.  We use 
chemicals when we have no other choice, but always with much caution and with 

Judy Hunt in Louisville, KY

Swiss Study Says It's Raining Pesticides 
FRED PEARCE and DEBORAH MACKENZIE c. c.1999 New Scientist 

Rain is not what it used to be. A new study reveals that much of the 
precipitation in Europe contains such high levels of dissolved pesticides 
that it would be illegal to supply it as drinking water. 

Studies in Switzerland have found that rain is laced with toxic levels of 
atrazine, alachlor and other commonly used crop sprays. ``Drinking water 
standards are regularly exceeded in rain,'' says Stephan Muller, a chemist at 
the Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology in 
Dbendorf. The chemicals appear to have evaporated from fields and become part 
of the clouds. 

Both the European Union and Switzerland have set a limit of 100 nanograms for 
any particular pesticide in a liter of drinking water. But, especially in the 
first minutes of a heavy storm, rain can contain much more than that. 

In a study to be published by Muller and his colleague Thomas Bucheli in 
Analytical Chemistry this summer, one sample of rainwater contained almost 
4,000 nanograms per liter of 2,4-dinitrophenol, a widely used pesticide. 
Previously, the authors had shown that in rain samples taken from 41 storms, 
nine contained more than 100 nanograms of atrazine per liter, one of them 
around 900 nanograms. 

In the latest study, the highest concentrations of pesticides turned up in 
the first rain after a long dry spell, particularly when local fields had 
recently been sprayed. Until now, scientists had assumed that the pesticides 
only infiltrated groundwater directly from fields. 

Muller warns that the growing practice of using rainwater that falls onto 
roofs to recharge underground water may be adding to the danger. This water 
often contains dissolved herbicides that had been added to roofing materials, 
such as bitumen sheets, to prevent vegetation growing. He suggests that the 
first flush of rains should be diverted into sewers to minimize the pollution 
of drinking water, which is not usually treated to remove these herbicides 
and pesticides. 

Meanwhile, Swedish researchers have linked pesticides to one of the most 
rapidly increasing cancers in the Western world. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, 
which has risen by 73 per cent in the US since 1973, is probably caused by 
several commonly used crop sprays, say the scientists. 

Lennart Hardell of Orebro Medical Center and Mikael Eriksson of Lund 
University Hospital found Swedish sufferers of the disease were 2-to-7 times 
more likely to have been exposed to MCPA, a widely used weedkiller, than 
healthy people. 

MCPA, which is used on grain crops, is sold as Target by the Swiss firm 
Novartis. In addition, patients were 3-to-7 times more likely to have been 
exposed to a range of fungicides, an association not previously reported. 

The patients were also 2-to-3 times more likely to have had contact with 
glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in Sweden. Use of this chemical, 
sold as Round-Up by the US firm Monsanto, is expected to rocket with the 
introduction of crops, such as Roundup-Ready soya beans, that are genetically 
modified to resist glyphosate. The researchers suggest that the chemicals 
have suppressed the patients' immunity, allowing viruses such as Epstein-Barr 
to trigger cancer. 

(This article is excerpted from New Scientist, a weekly science and 
technology magazine based in London. The New Scientist Web site is at 

(Distributed by New York Times Syndicate) 

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