A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives reports a significant increase in pesticide residues found in soil and water in communities near wastewater treatment plants.
Researchers from the University of Arizona’s School of Public Health and Environmental Sciences surveyed 8,000 people living in metro Phoenix over a three-year period.
They found that nearly two-thirds of the people surveyed tested positive for pesticide residues in their soil, and a quarter tested positive in their water.
The study is based on a survey conducted in April of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (DEC) and includes information from more than 8,500 urine samples from 1,300 people.
The results show that more than half of the participants tested positive to levels of glyphosate, which is a pesticide used to control weeds and other plants, as well as to pesticides that are classified as organophosphate (OP) pesticides.
This is more than double the number of people who tested positive after the first test, the researchers found.
The most common pesticides tested positive were dichloroethylene, carbaryl, imidacloprid, pyrethroid and perfluorocarbons (PFOCs).
The findings come just two months after a major environmental study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report detailing widespread contamination of water and soil in the metro Phoenix area.
It is also the first study to specifically look at pesticide levels in urine samples, the EPA said in its study.
According to the EPA report, about 4 percent of people surveyed in 2016 had elevated levels of organophos and 2 percent had elevated amounts of pesticide residue.
The EPA also said a small percentage of the sample had elevated concentrations of PFCs.
In April, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt ordered a massive cleanup of the Phoenix metropolitan area to reduce pollution from industrial plants and wastewater treatment facilities.
The Phoenix cleanup has already started, and the EPA says the EPA is working to remove pesticide residues from drinking water.
It’s a process that can take decades, so the EPA will likely take some time to complete the cleanup.
The EPA’s Clean Water Act, which regulates how wastewater is treated, allows states to regulate pesticides as they wish.
In Arizona, the state has been considering banning the use of pesticides in water, but the state is moving forward with that decision.