In the past few years, many investigative reports have focused on the steady decline of water quality from agricultural runoff. One particular exceptional piece on this topic is Frontline’s Poisoned Waters piece from last year. Part of that series covered the phenomenon of Potomac River wildlife inexplicably changing sex, possible due to chemical exposure/dumping into the river.

Now, a study released yesterday has found that, after being exposed to an extremely popular herbicide,male frogs can switch sexes to the point that become “completely female…[and] can mate and lay viable eggs.”


The EPA, which re-approved the herbicide “atrazine” in 2006, is currently re-evaluating the substance, which can be found in trace amounts in various drinking water sources. The substance is primarily used on cornfields, so the problem could be extremely widespread.

This is the second major story regarding pollution and water quality to come out in as many days from a major American newspaper (The NYT yesterday released a piece on how some Supreme Courts decisions are allowing companies to dump chemicals into numerous waterways, skirting EPA clean water regulations on technicalities). And these kinds of stories crop up several times every year.

Last April, ProPublica published a long series of how a natural gas drilling technique, known as “fracking,”can result in methane gas, hydrocarbons, lead and copper appearing in water sources. And there’s been long-standing intense and completely justified criticism of the heinous practice of mountain-top removal by coal companies, which heavily pollutes waterways (sometimes irreconcilably).

The problem seems evident, with the stories piling up. You just wonder what has to happen before Congress takes a real stand against polluting our water.