Chemical castrating herbicide used in swimming pools


chemical castrating herbicide used in swimming pools
Friends of the Earth calls for bans on simazine in swimming pools and more research into swimming pool chemicals

Friends of the Earth Australia today called for bans on the use of Simazine in swimming pools in Australia. Simazine is a herbicide, registered for use by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Association (APVMA) for a number of uses including swimming pools. Simazine also kills algae in swimming pools, dams, troughs, ponds and freshwater aquariums. The US EPA banned the use of Simazine in swimming pools in the United States in 1994.

Friends of the Earth Australia researcher Anthony Amis said; "It is deeply disturbing that Simazine is still registered for use in swimming pools in Australia. A US EPA risk assessment 14 years ago concluded that water treated with simazine algaecides represented an unacceptable cancer and non-cancer health risk to children and adults. Simazine hasn't been allowed in swimming pools in the U.S. since 1994, yet it still remains registered in Australia."

"Our organisation also has problems with several other chemicals used in the swimming pool industry in Australia. We believe that the Regulatory Bodies need to take a closer look at this industry" said Mr Amis. "At this time however, Friends of the Earth is particularly concerned about Simazine".

Friends of the Earth has identified 6 companies including simazine as swimming pool algaecides in Australia. Chemtura Australia Pty Ltd, Greenfield Industries Pty Ltd, Pool and Spa Poppits Pty Ltd, Poolgard Pty Ltd, Wobelea Pty Ltd and Price Chemicals Pty Ltd. "Simazine would not be the major algaecide used in swimming pools in Australia, so not all pools are treated with it. There are alternatives" Mr Amis stated.

"From our research it also appears that once added to swimming pools, simazine levels could remain at between 10 and 20 parts per billion (ppb) every day over a 3 month period" said Mr Amis. Simazine at such levels could be placing anyone swimming in these pools at risk. The risk will increase in regards to children, as children may use swimming pools for longer periods of time, they may ingest greater volumes of water and have a lower weight ratio. We also have concerns regarding uptake of simazine via skin absorption and the impact of pregnant women swimming in simazine treated water." said Mr Amis. "Studies overseas have suggested that children in swimming pools can ingest ~50ml of swimming pool water per hour".

"The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines state that the health limit for Simazine is 20 parts per billion (ppb), whilst the Guideline limit is 0.5 ppb. What this means that in a domestic water supply for intance, if simazine was detected at 0.5 ppb, the water authority theoretically has to determine the source of the pollution in order to stop this pollution occurring again. Yet Australian regulators allow limits much higher than the Drinking Water Guideline Level in swimming pools where the water can be ingested by people at levels which would breach the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. There are also no standards in Australia for recreational levels of Simazine. If a river was polluted with Simazine at 20 parts per billion and people were swimming in it there would be a public outcry" said Mr Amis. "Yet regulators allow the public to be exposed to Simazine at these levels in swimming pools".

According to Tasmanian GP Dr Alison Bleaney "Simazine works by disrupting our hormone (endocrine) and enzyme systems and allowing other chemicals to act and pre-set our bodies for some illnesses and cancers. The type and severity of the effects depends on the time that they affect us but especially when in utero or as a child.

"Hormone disruptors work at extremely low concentrations. They also upset our immune system and are very strong skin sensitisers i.e. are allergenic, and alter the functioning of our genes i.e. cause epigenetic changes".

"Atrazine and simazine are among the strongest of the environmental oestrogens (EO), which are also strong allergy modifiers, and the effects of EO's are additive. Atrazine and simazine have been shown to cause chemical castration of male frogs and other animals at 0.1 ppb, by induction of an enzyme (aromatase) which changes testosterone into oestrogen. The hormones in frogs are identical to those in humans. The effects are apparent in the next 2 generations, even when only the pregnant mother was exposed to these chemicals".

"Immune dysfunction can be a factor in illnesses such as allergies,asthma,auto-immunediseases,neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson's disease) and cancers. The total biological effects of these and other toxic herbicides on all the animals in our ecosystems including humans have not been fully investigated let alone quantified." concluded Ms Bleaney.

"Why on earth is this product still allowed to be registered when there are alternatives. We urge consumers to avoid the use of simazine in swimming pools and to teach their children not to swallow swimming pool water" concluded Mr Amis.

For further information contact:

Anthony Amis: (03) 9419 8700 or (03 )9830 6164
Dr Alison Bleaney: 0417 302 545

List of Simazine Products Registered in Australia

History of use of Simazine in US;

A list of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals can be found here;