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Herbicide Use Near Protected Reserve Requires Careful Management

Published on: 01/15/2013

As part of a joint investigation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, researchers from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science quantified pollutants that could contaminate the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The agencies' researchers analyzed water samples from test wells around a nearby farm and sites inside the reserve to look for the presence ofatrazine, a common weed killer used around the world.

They found that concentrations were generally below limits ofdetection in both groundwater monitoring wells and surface water ditches, which is good news for the reserve. However, if the field has just been treated before a tropical storm, the chemical may wash into the estuary.

Atrazine is a known endocrine disruptor, which can kill or alter hormones in fish, invertebrates, and other species living in Jobos Bay. The findings--part of a larger ecological characterization of the reserve's marine resources--are published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

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