Last updated 12:54 PM ET March 31, 1999
LONDON (Reuters) - Rain falling in Europe is so
full of toxic pesticides that much of it is too dangerous to drink,
Swiss scientists said Wednesday.
Chemicals used in pesticides sprayed on crops
evaporate, are absorbed by clouds and returned to earth in rainwater.
Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental
Science and Technology said concentrations of dangerous substances
in rain from a heavy storm exceed the limit for drinking water
set by the European Union and Switzerland.
"Drinking water standards are regularly exceeded
in rain," Stephan Muller told New Scientist magazine.
Muller and his colleagues analyzed samples
of rainwater and found it contained almost 400 nanograms per
liter of the widely used pesticide 2-4-dinitrophenol -- quadruple
the 100 nanograms limit set by the EU for any pesticide. The
highest concentrations of the substance were found in the first
heavy rainfall following a dry spell after crops had been sprayed.
Muller also suggested the first rainwater falling on rooftops
should be diverted to sewers, because the water could contain
traces of an herbicide added to roofing material.