It's Raining pesticides (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at
Sat Jul 24 12:46:05 EDT 1999
[Archive: 3 April 1999]
The New Scientist

It's raining pesticides

  Fred Pearce and Debora Mackenzie

**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 Müller, a chemist at the Swiss Federal
Institute for Environmental Science and Technology in Dübendorf. The
chemicals appear to have evaporated from fields and become part of the

Both the European Union and Switzerland have set a limit of 100
nanograms for any particular pesticide in a litre 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 Müller and his colleague Thomas Bucheli in
Analytical Chemistry this summer, one sample of rainwater contained
almost 4000 nanograms per litre 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
litre, one of them around 900 nanograms...

Müller 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 minimise 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...**

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