Atrazine: Poisoning the Well
Atrazine Continues to Contaminate Surface Water and Drinking Water in the United States
Banned in the European Union and clearly linked to harm to wildlife and potentially to humans, the pesticide atrazine provides little benefit to offset its risks. In 2009, NRDC analyzed results of surface water and drinking water monitoring data for atrazine and found pervasive contamination of watersheds and drinking water systems across the Midwest and Southern United States. This May 2010 report summarizes scientific information that has emerged since the publication of our initial report and includes more recent monitoring data.
Approximately 75 percent of stream water and about 40 percent of all groundwater samples from agricultural areas tested in an extensive U.S. Geological Survey study contained atrazine. NRDC found that the U.S. EPA's inadequate monitoring systems and weak regulations have compounded the problem, allowing levels of atrazine in watersheds and drinking water to peak at extremely high concentrations.
The most recent data confirms that atrazine continues to contaminate watersheds and drinking water. Atrazine was found in 80 percent of drinking water samples taken in 153 public water systems. All twenty watersheds sampled in 2007 and 2008 had detectable levels of atrazine, and sixteen had average concentrations above the level that has been shown to harm plants and wildlife.
Atrazine in Public Water Systems and Watersheds
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The map above shows the maximum concentration of atrazine detected in public water systems and in watersheds. Use the pull down menu to select a view and click on the icons to view additional data for water systems or watersheds. Raw water refers to drinking water before it is treated and finished water refers to treated drinking water that has undergone disinfection and/or filtration and is ready to be sent to consumers.
last revised 8/22/2009