The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a dicey history of actually protecting the environment, but they've recently determined that the endocrine-disrupting pesticide atrazine and cancer-linked pesticide glyphosate are each likely to harm more than 1,000 of the nation’s most endangered plants and animals.

Their evaluation found that glyphosate is likely causing harm to 1,676 of the plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. In addition, atrazine is likely harming 1,013 protected species.

Nathan Donley is the Environmental Health Science Director at the Center For Biological Diversity. He says,
“It’s no surprise that these chemical poisons are causing severe harm to imperiled wildlife since U.S. use exceeds 70 million pounds of atrazine and 300 million pounds of glyphosate every year. It’s long past time for atrazine to be banned, and the EPA needs to crack down on the reckless overuse of glyphosate. Without real conservation action, these pesticides will continue to push our most endangered wildlife closer to extinction.”
While the makers of atrazine agreed earlier this year to change that meant the end of use in Hawaii, thus saving 500 island species, not all endangered species outside of Hawaii are so lucky. In fact, for endangered species found outside the proposed ban areas, the finding of harm was nearly 100%.

These findings come after both glyphosate and atrazine were reapproved for widespread use across the country in the past two years. Now, the evaluations will go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. This will be the final step of the consultation process to determine what on-the-ground conservation measures are needed in order to help these endangered species and to minimize any additional harm.

Each year, hundreds of millions of pounds of glyphosate are used in the United States. This usage occurs mostly in agriculture but also on lawns, landscaping, schools, forests, gardens and more. According to the EPA, glyphosate is sprayed on 298 million acres of cropland each year. Similar amounts are used in homes, schools and other non-agricultural areas.

Atrazine is a widespread pollutant of groundwater and drinking water. It has been linked to increased risk of cancer and reproductive problems in people. It can effectively castrate male frogs (chemically) at LOW concentrations, including drinking water. It's banned in more than 35 countries, including the whole EU, but still? It's the second-most used herbicide in the United States after glyphosate.

For decades, the EPA has not complied with its obligation under the Endangered Species Act. It's supposed to assess the harms of pesticides to protected plants and animals. Finally, after a 2016 legal agreement with the Center and Pesticide Action Network it has been forced to evaluate, but we're worried about it being too little, too late.