New Study: Herbicide in Water Dramatically Affects Women's Hormones


A new scientific study published in the journal Environmental Research has found that women who regularly drink water that’s been contaminated with the most widely used herbicide, atrazine, are more prone to menstrual irregularities and low estrogen levels.

The study, titled “Menstrual cycle characteristics and reproductive hormone levels in women exposed to atrazine in drinking water” was conducted by researchers and scientists at Colorado State University’s Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Emory University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Vermont Department of Health and compared hormone levels and menstrual cycles along with the water consumption habits of women from Illinois and Vermont. The Illinois women showed lower than normal levels of estrogen during their menstrual cycles, were nearly five times more prone to experience irregular menstrual cycles, and more than six times as likely to experience a gap of six weeks or more between periods than the Vermont women.

Samples of Illinois tap water had more than double the atrazine concentration than Vermont tap water—both, however, fell well below the EPA federal standard for atrazine levels allowed in drinking water.

Groundwater contaminated with atrazine occurs frequently throughout the U.S. and is most notably present in the Midwest where most of the U.S. corn is grown; 75 percent of all cornfields are treated with atrazine.

Atrazine is the most common herbicide in the U.S. used on weeds that interfere with crops such as corn and has been connected to human health risks in more than 150 recent studies. It is banned in the European Union.

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Image: Greg Riegler Photography

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.