Products applied to our lawns and gardens can end up in streams and aquifers, threatening water quality and the environment. Atrazine, a common weed killer, is the latest garden chemical to come under scrutiny. It has been found to disrupt hormone systems and cause behavioral changes in male frogs. A recent University of California study found that the chemical at concentrations as low as 0.1 parts per billion in drinking water can adversely affect sexual organ development in the animals studied. The U.S. EPA's allowable standard for atrazine in tap water is 3 parts per billion.
In response to concerns over Atrazine use and other garden chemicals, groups around the country are providing residents with information on reducing pesticide and fertilizer misuse and overapplication. Check with your local municipality or your County Extension Office for information on ways to protect water quality in your area. Here are just a few of the many links to programs across the country:
City of Seattle: Washington's Ecologically Sound Lawn Care Report
University of California: Pesticides and Water Quality Web Site
Texas Cooperative Extension: City of Austin's Grow Green Program
Florida Extension: Yards and Neighborhoods Program
Virginia Cooperative Extension: Home Landscape Practices to Protect Water Quality