OTTAWA - The widely used weed killer atrazine affects the sexual development of frogs, raising questions about the effects of its use in the environment, the University of Ottawa said on Thursday.
A study by researchers at the university found that at low levels comparable to those measured in the Canadian environment, fewer tadpoles reached the froglet stage and the ratio of females to males increased.
"Atrazine is one of the top-selling herbicides used worldwide and was designed to inhibit weed growth in cornfields," the university said in a statement.
"It is so widely used that it can be detected in many rivers, streams and in some water supplies. This has raised the alarm on the possibility of other serious detrimental environmental effects."
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Syngenta AG, a major Swiss manufacturer of atrazine, has long defended its safety. The company has said it is one of the best-studied herbicides available and pointed to previous safety reviews from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization, among others.
The EPA said in October that it was reviewing the health impacts of the herbicide. Some studies have tied it to birth defects, low birth weight and premature babies.
(Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Peter Galloway)