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Central States Society of Toxicology

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Evidence that agrichemicals are associated with the incidence of birth defects is inconsistent. We examined whether nitrate and nitrosatable agrichemicals present in well water are associated with birth defect rates in Nebraska counties. Birth defect data from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, 2005-2014, were merged with well data obtained from the Quality-Assessed Agrichemical Contaminant Database for Nebraska Ground Water (1977-2014). Nebraska counties with higher rates of birth defects had a greater prevalence of agrichemicals in well water. Of the 33 contaminants sampled from different well types, nitrate and atrazine were of interest. Birth defect rates were negatively correlated with nitrate-positive wells and directly correlated with atrazine positive wells. After stratification by well types (domestic and public wells) we found the highest correlation between nitrate+atrazine positive wells as compared to wells contaminated with either nitrate or atrazine. This study suggests stronger association between birth defects and maternal exposure to nitrate+atrazine when compared to maternal exposure to only nitrate or atrazine in drinking water. This association does not imply causation but provides direction for further investigation.


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Birth outcomes and water: A multidisciplinary study

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