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Multi-agency review presents initial findings on Minnesota's atrazine regulations

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The Minnesota Department of Agriculture announced it has completed a multi-agency review of the herbicide atrazine in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 

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While the review finds that atrazine regulations protect human health and the environment in Minnesota, it also identifies several opportunities to further minimize atrazine impacts.

The review summary and conclusions will be formally posted in the state register on Tuesday, January 19.  This marks the beginning of a 60-day public comment period. 

After the close of the 60-day comment period, the Commissioner of Agriculture will re-visit the review summary and its conclusions, and consider comments received. 

The Commissioner will then determine specific additional actions, if any, to be taken for the prevention, evaluation and mitigation of atrazine impacts in Minnesota. 

As the lead state agency for pesticide regulatory activities in Minnesota, MDA worked closely with scientists at the Department of Health and the Pollution Control Agency to evaluate atrazine impacts. 

The Health Department assessed human health impacts based on applicable scientific data while the Pollution Control Agency assessed environmental impacts.

A summary of this review has been prepared along with five agency-specific technical assessments that are the foundation of the review.

Copies are available on MDA's website at www.mda.state.mn.us/chemicals/pesticides/atrazine/atrazinereview.aspx.

State water monitoring data show atrazine levels have declined in groundwater in recent years. 

To continue this positive trend and further minimize impacts, the report makes a number of recommendations including:

enhanced water resource monitoring efforts; development of interagency collaborative efforts to inform private well owners about testing their water quality; continued promotion of agricultural best-management practices to minimize atrazine contamination in state waters; and additional activities to inform applicators about products containing atrazine and the label requirements of those products.

Atrazine is a common herbicide used for corn production in Minnesota.  It controls many types of weeds before or after corn is planted. 

In recent years, atrazine has been the subject of extensive research and review.

State water monitoring data show atrazine is detected often in ground and surface water around the state; however, the levels at which it has been detected have not violated applicable water quality standards, and detections in groundwater have declined in recent years. 

Monitoring data and details about best-management practices can be found on MDA's website at www.mda.state.mn.us/chemicals/pesticides/atrazine.aspx.

MDA's special review of atrazine was the first of its kind in Minnesota.  Reviews of other pesticides are being planned.  MDA developed the special review process at the recommendation of the Office of the Legislative Auditor, which made the suggestion as part of an extensive review of MDA's pesticide regulatory programs in 2006.

In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced an additional round of scientific reviews for atrazine.  State regulators will continue to monitor research developments on atrazine - particularly the EPA review.  If the EPA review generates significant new findings, Minnesota officials will evaluate those finding in the context of atrazine management in Minnesota.

Comments can be submitted until 4:30 p.m. March 19, 2010.  Citizens are asked to submit comments by letter, email, or fax to the following contact:

Gregg Regimbal, Supervisor, Pesticide Management Unit

Pesticide and Fertilizer Management Division

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

625 Robert Street North

Saint Paul, MN 55155-2538

E-mail: gregg.regimbal@state.mn.us

Fax: 651-201-6117 (fax: attn. Gregg Regimbal)

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