Atrazine, a product of Syngenta AG, is a weed killer used on corn by many farmers in the Midwest region of the U.S.
A class-action suit against the company has been ongoing for 8 years. However, in 2009 an article in the New York Times
was considered to be instrumental in exposing the dangers of atrazine.
While the manufacturers
of the chemical have consistently denied allegations that atrazine is a danger to humans, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) requires anyone planning to use the chemical to attend a training course and warns that special clothing should be worn when handling atrazine.
In their article
, the Times noted that the chemical is not allowed to be applied “near lakes, reservoirs or other bodies of water.” However at that time 6 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and Ohio had all filed claims against Syngenta because their water had been contaminated with the chemical.
Syngenta AG, a Swiss-based company, has been at the center of a class-action lawsuit because hundreds of community water systems across the U.S. have allegedly been contaminated by the weed killer. For many years, communities across the country, in at least 45 states, have had their water supply contaminated by atrazine and were forced to filter out the poison to allow for safe consumption. This filtering cost millions of dollars.
The lead attorneys for the plaintiffs, Korein Tillery LLC, have released a press release
this week stating that the community water systems contaminated by atrazine have impacted more than one-in-six Americans.
The $105 million settlement
in the class-action suit will go towards reimbursing the districts that have had to implement their own filtration systems to eliminate the poison. Stephen M. Tillery of the law firm states that upwards of 300 communities with the highest contamination levels will be able to recover 100% of the costs of this filtration. Around 200 water utility companies will be eligible to recover, at least in part, their expenses through this settlement.
Tillery says, “The scope of this historic settlement is enormous and its protection of the health of millions of Americans across the country is a huge benefit to the public, the environment, and the taxpayers.”
Syngenta AG admitted no liability under this settlement and will be denied further liability regarding human exposure to atrazine.
The company made an official statement this week stating, “Settling this case will remove the burden of litigation from Syngenta's partners, customers, retailers, distributors and others who have been inconvenienced by the lawsuit.”
In separate investigations, some scientists have concluded that exposure to atrazine has caused birth defects.
The recent settlement will not impact where Syngenta can sell the herbicide domestically. However a ban on the chemical was previously initiated in the European Union.