Does Atrazine Affect the Risk of Cancer?

Pesticide Applied Learning Series (PALS)
  • Snedeker, Suzanne


About the Author
Learning Objectives

Guidebook/Slide-Script Version
Interactive Version
Adaptable PowerPoint Version

Slides and Script for PALS Atrazine Module:
Slides 1-20
Slides 21-40
Slides 41-52

Appendix A. PowerPoint Handout Master
Appendix C. 35 mm Slide / Script Index
Appendix D. Troubleshooting Tips for Interactive Version
Appendix E. Photography credits


Suzanne Snedeker, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Associate and is the Associate Director for Translational Research for the Cornell University Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors (BCERF). She received her B.S. from Cornell University, her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and completed her postdoctoral work in toxicology and cancer biology at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Before joining the Cornell faculty in 1995, she was a Project Officer in the National Toxicology Program, and designed large-scale animal modeling studies to determine the effects of environmental chemicals on reproduction and the incidence of breast and reproductive cancers. She is a leader in the field of translational research, where basic research is translated into forms that can be used by a variety of other audiences, including other scientists, the regulatory community, educators, media representatives, professionals, and the public.


The inspiration for this module came from a series of workshops I conducted at the 1999 National Pesticide Certification & Training Workshop in Portland, Maine, on the cancer risk of several widely used herbicides. These talks were based on translational research conducted in the BCERF program. The critical assessment of the scientific literature on the cancer risk, environmental fate, and potential for human exposure to atrazine was published as a BCERF Critical Evaluation and was translated into a consumer-oriented fact sheet in 1999. Both documents are available on the BCERF web site at . I am indebted to Heather Clark who helped develop the usage sections of the original Atrazine Critical Evaluation and fact sheet manuscripts, to the technical reviewers of these manuscripts, John Bucher and James Huff at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and Ruthann Rudel at the Silent Spring Institute. This learning module on the cancer risk of atrazine has been updated to reflect the most recent information available in Environmental Protection Agency's risk assessment of this herbicide.

I would like to thank Amy Brown, University of Maryland, and Susan Whitney, University of Delaware, who encouraged the development of this module for use by other pesticide safety educators. I am very grateful to the many individuals who contributed to the technical review and field testing of the slide/script and interactive versions of this module.

In addition, I am indebted to Mari Stewart, BCERF Electronic Communications Officer, for her creative ideas in developing the "look" of the PowerPoint and Interactive Version of the module, as well as her tireless pursuit to take or obtain photos, and design the graphics used in this module. Thanks are also extended to Sean Gardner and Jason Hernandez for their work developing the FLASH movies for the Interactive Version of this module, and to Neil Rotach and Carin Rundle for adapting and formatting the script for this Guidebook.

S. Snedeker


This module is based on work supported by Smith Lever funds from the Cooperative Research, Education, and Extension Service, US Dept. of Agriculture, and a grant from the New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this module are those of the authors and do not reflect the view of the grantors.


Cover and Page Design: Suzanne Snedeker
Mari Stewart
Guidebook Text Formatting: Neil Rotach
Carin Rundle
Graphics: Mari Stewart
Sean Gardner
Suzanne Snedeker
FLASH Movies: Sean Gardner
Jason Hernandez
Mari Stewart
Web/CD Navigation: Mari Stewart
Photography: Mari Stewart
See Appendix E for photographic credits
Narration: Mari Stewart


Cornell University
  • Pesticide Management and Education Program
    • Ronald Gardner
    • William Smith
    • George Good
Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factor Program
  • Carol Devine
  • Mary Maley
  • Carmi Orenstien
  • Neil Rotach
  • Carin Rundle
  • Barbour Warren
Environmental Risk Analysis Program
  • Lois Levitan
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County
  • William Sanok
  • Joyce Rodler
  • Tim Durham
External Technical Reviewers
  • Candace Bartholomew, University of Connecticut
  • Amy Brown, University of Maryland
  • Mike Weaver, Virginia Tech
  • Susan Whitney, University of Delaware
Field Test Evaluators
  • TBA

There is concern that certain widely used pesticides may affect the health of humans and wildlife. New emerging research is investigating how pesticides can affect cancer risk and reproduction by acting as hormonally active agents. While these are topics of interest to the scientific and regulatory community, others, including those in agriculture, and who use and consume agricultural products, are not always aware of these ongoing scientific discussions and evaluations. Nor do they have access to easy to understand scientific information on emerging research or on risk assessments conducted by federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

We hope the PALS modules will fulfill several needs. This includes making current scientific topics on agriculture, the environment and health available to pesticide educators and applicators and to others who are interested in improving their knowledge about the health effects of pesticides.

The PALS Atrazine module is designed to improve the knowledge level of the user/audience on the current scientific evidence of whether atrazine affects the risk of cancer. This is an evolving area of research where scientists are still seeking more answers. The module also gives information on exposures of concern identified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This module is provided in three different formats to increase the availability and accessibility of this information to a variety of audiences:

Guidebook/Traditional Slide-Script Version - for group presentations
The Guidebook includes 35 mm slides and a hard copy of the slides and script. The presenter has the option of reading the script during the group presentation. The Guidebook also includes a handout with a mini-version of all slides.

Interactive Version - for individualized self-study
The Interactive Version is meant to be viewed by an individual at a computer workstation. You can hear an audio version of the script, as well as view the text of the script. The presentation has animation, including a mini-movie on how breast cancer develops.

Adaptable PowerPoint Version - for electronic group presentations
This version can be modified and tailored to meet the needs of your audience. Slides can be deleted or edited.


Pieces of the Puzzle; Does Atrazine Affect the Risk of Cancer?

Participants will:
  • Gain an awareness of breast cancer risk factors and the complexity of the disease.
  • Be able to identify the primary crop and non-cropland uses of atrazine.
  • Increase their knowledge of the human and animal studies that have evaluated the cancer risk of atrazine.
  • Be able to identify exposures of concern to atrazine in the workplace and residential settings.
  • Increase their knowledge of trends in levels of atrazine in water supplies.
  • Increase their knowledge of how atrazine may affect the sexual development of wildlife.

This module is provided in a traditional slide-script format. This includes a Guidebook Binder with:
  • a set of numbered 35 mm slides
  • a hard copy version of each slide with the facing page containing the script
  • a handout master, with three slides per page and areas for note taking
  • a suggested pre-post test
A PDF version of the Guidebook is also available on the CD in the folder "PDF Guidebook".

Equipment needed:
  • 35 mm slide projector
  • Movie/slide projection screen
  • Podium (optional) for script
  • Flip-chart, pad and markers if you wish to write out questions after the presentation

Hints for presenters:

Familiarize yourself with the slides and script by reading the script to yourself and aloud in a conversational tone several times. You can then decide if you want to use all of the slides "as is" or select a sub-set of slides to individualize the presentation to meet the needs of your audience.

Anticipate the number of attendees, and make sure you have made a sufficient number of the handouts as well as the pre-post tests.

The summary slides are meant to help you "wrap up" the presentation, and review the major points of the presentations. These summary points are good jumping off points that can be used as a lead-in to any post-presentation question and answer period.

The slides on additional BCERF materials are optional, but do provide added resources for attendees that want more information on the cancer risks of pesticides and cancer risk reduction strategies. An index of the slides by title is contained in Appendix C.


What you need:

  • A computer capable of reading a CD-ROM disk
  • A web browser
  • Browser versions for PC users: Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher, Netscape 4.0 or higher.
  • Browser versions for Mac users: Internet Explorer 5.1 or higher, Netscape 7.0 or higher.
    Known incompatibilities with certain browsers are listed in Appendix D.
  • Macromedia Flash plug-in installed on your computer. This is a free plug-in available from Macromedia at: index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=Shockwave It provides the sound and animation for the module
  • A printer if you wish to make hard copies of any printed text, the manual, instructions, etc.
  • The self-directed Interactive Version can be used for individualized self-study
  • This version of the module has animation and sound (audio of script)
  • An audio version of the script is played for each slide
  • The text of the audio can be viewed by scrolling to the bottom of the slide
  • The Interactive Version can be viewed with either Netscape Navigator or Internet


How to Access the Interactive Version:
  • On the CD, click the “START_HERE.html” icon, then select the Interactive Module

  • You can open the folder called “Interactive_Module” and select the “START.html” icon.
    This method will bypass the overall start screen which provide access to other features on
    the CD.

Navigation and Layout of the Interactive Version:

Navigating the Interactive Version is easy. The page always includes a graphic, which is usually on the left-hand side, and a text area for the main points of the slide.

The audio plays automatically when you first see a slide. An area of text below the main window provides the script of the spoken information. You may have to scroll down the screen to see the whole of the script.

Navigation buttons are located directly underneath the main information area. Two buttons are always available: Home and Back. These allow the reader to retrace their steps in case they missed something.

Back Button Goes to the previous slide.
Home Button Returns to the main screen at the start of the presentation. The HOME screen provides a link to the Table of Contents with a list of all slides.

After the audio for the slide has played two more options become available. The buttons called Replay and Next appear.

Replay Button This button will allow you to listen to the audio of the slide again.
Next Button The Next button will take you to the next slide in the series.


What you need:
  • A computer capable of reading a CD-ROM disk
  • A web browser, either Internet Explorer (version 4.0 or higher) or Netscape (version 4.0 or higher)
  • PowerPoint software (version 6.0 or higher) needs to be installed on your computer if you wish to view or edit the PowerPoint version of this module. You must purchase this software separately from Microsoft
  • A printer if you wish to make hard copies of any printed text, instruction, overheads, handout master, or customized handouts, etc.
The PowerPoint version with electronic slides and notes can be:
  • Played directly on your computer from the CD-ROM using PowerPoint software
  • Downloaded onto your computer for use with PowerPoint software
  • Edited by you or other users to develop individualized presentations
How to Access the PowerPoint Version:
  • On the CD, click the “START_HERE.html” icon then select the PowerPoint Version

  • You can open the folder called “Power_Point” and select the “START.html” icon. This method will bypass the overall start screen which provides access to other features on the CD

To Edit the PowerPoint Version:
  • On the CD, open the “Power_Point” folder. Save the file named “PALS_Atrazine.ppt” to your computer’s hard drive or desktop
  • You can make and save changes to this copy
  • You cannot make or save changes to the PowerPoint version of the CD Slide Notes:
  • Notes for each slide can be viewed by choosing the “View : Notes” option in the PowerPoint Version
Appendix A: PowerPoint Handout Master

The slide set for this module is accompanied by a set of handouts. Each page of the handout features three slides and an area for notes. You may choose to provide copies of this handout to participants in the presentation. You can also print out another master of the handout whenever needed from the PowerPoint presentation on the CD. Consult your PowerPoint manual for instructions.

Appendix C: 35 mm Slide / Script Index

slide 01 Titlepage
slide 02 Translational cancer research 1
slide 03 Translational cancer research 2
slide 04 Breast cancer statistics
slide 05 Puzzle of breast cancer - introduction
slide 06 Steps in breast cancer 1
slide 07 Steps in breast cancer 2
slide 08 Steps in breast cancer 3
slide 09 Metastasis/Early detection
Steps in breast cancer - animation
slide 10 Puzzle - risk factors 1
slide 11 Puzzle - risk factors 2
slide 12 Puzzle - risk factors 3
slide 13 Four major uses of pesticides
slide 14 Pesticides and breast cancer risk 1
slide 15 Pesticides and breast cancer risk 2
slide 16 Atrazine
slide 17 Atrazine - usage 1
slide 18 Atrazine - usage 2
slide 19 Atrazine - usage 3
slide 20 Atrazine - usage 4
slide 21 Atrazine - usage 5
slide 22 Atrazine - ecological studies 1
slide 23 Atrazine - ecological studies 2
slide 24 Atrazine - cancer risk in lab animals 1
slide 25 Atrazine - cancer risk in lab animals 2
slide 26 Atrazine - cancer risk in women
slide 27 Atrazine - cancer risk in men 1
slide 28 Atrazine - cancer risk in men 2
slide 29 EPA’s cancer risk assessment 1
slide 30 EPA’s cancer risk assessment 2
slide 31 EPA’s cancer risk assessment 3
slide 32 EPA’s cancer risk assessment 4
slide 33 Atrazine - African clawed frogs
slide 34 Atrazine - aromatase theory
slide 35 Atrazine - effects on aromatase
slide 36 Atrazine & breakdown products - workplace 1
slide 37 Atrazine & breakdown products - workplace 2
slide 38 Atrazine & breakdown products - workplace 3
slide 40 Atrazine & breakdown products - families 1
slide 41 Atrazine & breakdown products - families 2
slide 42 Atrazine & breakdown products - families 3
slide 43 Atrazine in water supplies - trends 1
slide 44 Atrazine in water supplies - trends 2
slide 45 Atrazine in water supplies - trends 3
slide 46 Atrazine exposures of concern
slide 47 Atrazine and cancer risks - unanswered questions 1
slide 48 Atrazine and cancer risks - unanswered questions 2
slide 49 Atrazine and cancer risks - unanswered questions 3
slide 50 Agricultural Health Study - structure
slide 51 Agricultural Health Study - endpoints
slide 52 Summary - atrazine risk? 1
slide 53 Summary - atrazine risk? 2
slide 54 Summary - atrazine risk? 3
slide 55 Resources on pesticides
slide 56 BCERF on the web
slide 57 Acknowledgments - funding
slide 58 Acknowledgments - production and design

Appendix D: Troubleshooting and Known Incompatibilities for Interactive Module

We have done our best to insure that the PALS Interactive Module is a self-contained program and free of technical problems. However, we have discovered in our testing that some problems can occur and we offer you these pathways for solving the problems if you should encounter them.

1. The program won't play.
A. Make sure you have the required software. The only software you will need on your computer in order to view the interactive module is a web browser (like Netscape or Explorer) and the Macromedia Flash Player. The Interactive Module will play using Netscape or Microsoft Explorer as your browser. There is no preference for which browser to use. Certain versions of browsers work best. PC users should use either Netscape 4.0+ or Explorer 4.0+. For Mac users, PALS will work best when using Explorer 5.1+ or Netscape 7.0+. See Section 6.0 for known incompatibilities with lower versions of browsers. If you cannot read the files labeled "Start_Here.html" check to make sure that your computer has either web browser correctly installed. Help to install and configure your choice of web browser can be found at either or The free media player can be downloaded to your computer from the Macromedia website. The program is installed to your computer by the download. If you need additional help installing or configuring the Macromedia Flash Player visit the Macromedia web site for support. (

2. The sound won't play.
A. The presence of sound is an integral part of the PALS Interactive Module. If the sound will not play, check that your computer's sound card is installed correctly and has the appropriate drivers. If you need further assistance with your sound card contact

3. The slide does not advance when the next button is pushed, but a new window opens to play the same slide.
A. This problem is another manifestation of the incorrect installation and designation of a sound card. This problem has only been reported on MacIntosh systems running OS 9.0. Check that your computer's sound card is installed correctly and that the appropriate drivers are in place. If you need further assistance with your sound card contact

4. My computer has frozen while playing the Interactive Module. (Mac Only)
A. Reboot your computer and make sure that no other applications are running. If the problem persists increase the amount of memory to the network browser you are using to run the module.

5. I can't edit the Interactive Module.
A. The Interactive Module does not allow edits. If you want to increase the flexibility of your presentation or edit the presentation those edits can only be made in the PowerPoint version of PALS. Refer to your PowerPoint manual if you need assistance in editing.

6. Known browser and Operating System (OS) incompatibilities
We have tested the PALS Interactive Module on many combinations of common web browsers and operating systems. However, testing every combination was impossible. Here is a list of the known incompatible OS and browser combinations and the symptoms you may encounter. The best thing to do if you encounter one of these situations is to upgrade your web browsing program.

Browser Mac/PC OS Problem
Netscape 4.7 Mac 9.2.2 next button replays slide
Explorer 5.0 Mac 9.2.2 next button takes you to index

Appendix E: Photographic Credits

Our thanks to the following people and organizations for providing photographs and illustrations for use in this module.

Mari Stewart - Cornell University
Alexis A. Wenski-Roberts - Cornell University
Water Resources Institute - Cornell University
USDA Photography Center

Suzanne Snedeker, Ph.D. - Cornell University
Mari Stewart - Cornell University
Sean Gardener - Cornell University

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More