The primary goals of the Heartland Study website are first, to share the results of our research efforts, and second, to serve as an “on ramp” to previous science exploring the impact of herbicide use and exposures on reproduction, birth outcomes, and children’s development.
In addition, the Heartland Study website is designed to help people with little background in the issues progress along their own learning curve.
See for example the educational content in the Herbicides 101 and Reproductive Impacts sections. The Acronyms & Glossary page is also a valuable tool for people seeking a deeper understanding of the many technical terms that appear in this website.
The Bibliography is easy to search by herbicide, author, or health effect, and provides access to several hundred key papers published over 40 years. Full references and abstracts are available on nearly all papers, and full-text links are provided for several hundred.
Herbicides 101 — Learn why farmers rely on herbicides and the different times and ways they are applied in the section What are Herbicides?. The volume applied of three herbicides has risen as a result of the Impacts of GE Crop Technology.
Overuse of the most widely applied herbicide in the world — glyphosate — has triggered the emergence and spread of over two dozen resistant weeds. Herbicides: The Next Generation focuses on two herbicides that are being used much more frequently throughout the Midwest. Several Herbicide Timelines cover the history, changes in use, regulation, and public health and environmental impacts of herbicide use.
Herbicide Use –Access our Interactive Herbicide Use Tables and study changes in Key Indicators of both individual herbicide use and overall use. Data are presented and accessible nationally for corn, soybeans, cotton, and alfalfa, as well as by state from the early 1990s through 2018.
Biomonitoring — The best way to track herbicide exposure levels is to measure concentrations in urine and blood. The Heartland Study is measuring herbicide levels in the urine of pregnant women during each trimester of pregnancy, as well as in their newborn babies, and will develop measures of cumulative herbicide exposure from these data. Our section on Biomonitoring summarizes the results of past and ongoing biomonitoring projects.
Conception and Pregnancy — Exposure to herbicides is known to impact reproduction in several ways. Several studies have reported elevated risk of problems in getting pregnant and/or carrying a pregnancy to term. See Failure to Conceive for an overview of trends and research on the possible ways herbicide exposures can degrade sperm quality, or the ability of a woman to become pregnant. Similar information is presented on the frequency and causes of Spontaneous Miscarriages.
Adverse Birth Outcomes — Fetal exposure to herbicides, especially during the first trimester, can trigger a wide range of developmental abnormalities and adverse birth outcomes. The most serious are fortunately not common, such as life threatening Birth Defects. Low Birthweight and Pre-term Delivery are more common, and can increase the risk of other Developmental Effects.
Possible Epigenetic Effects from prenatal, in utero herbicide exposures are a growing concern and major focus of the Heartland Study.
Recently published animal studies report adverse developmental and health effects from low-level, in utero exposures to certain herbicides. Such impacts can arise as a result of heritable changes in gene expression and regulation. The Heartland Study is the first research project conducted anywhere in the world designed to rigorously explore the possible role of chemical exposures in triggering heritable, epigenetic changes in he human population.
If you find a glitch in the website, or have a suggestion to improve or augment it, please contact the website manager. The webmistress may also be able to provide Heartland Study website videos, tables, graphics, and data in a different format to media and scientists working to deepen understanding of the impacts of herbicide use and exposure on public health.