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Drinking Water Quality - Atrazine

Atrazine is an odorless white powder that dissolves in water. It is widely used in the U.S. as an herbicide to control the spread of broadleaf and grassy weeds. It is used most in the Midwest on corn, sugarcane, and sorghum crops. Workers who handle the herbicide during production or farming application have the highest risk of exposure through breathing, direct skin contact and ingestion by eating or drinking.

The general public has limited exposure to atrazine. However, atrazine can wash from crops where it is sprayed and contaminate streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater. People living on or near farms may be exposed if their drinking water source is contaminated with runoff from crops. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies atrazine as a Restricted Use Product (RUP). This means that only certified users can purchase and use the chemical. For a list of registered users of atrazine in Massachusetts, click here.

Health effects caused by atrazine depend on a number of factors: duration (how long), dose (how much), and route (how you came into contact). Exposure to atrazine above the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of .003mg/L can affect the reproductive and cardiovascular systems. Specific short-term health effects include:

Did You Know?
Atrazine is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the U.S. and in the world.
  • Congestion of heart, lungs, and kidneys
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weight loss
  • Damage to adrenal glands

Health effects of long-term exposure to atrazine include:

  • Reduced fertility
  • Weight loss
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Muscular degeneration

Available information is insufficient to conclude that atrazine causes cancer in humans. While there are limited data to suggest a link between atrazine and certain types of cancer, the EPA has classified atrazine as not likely to cause cancer in humans.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting drinking water atrazine data, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The data presented are for public water systems only. Residents may have exposure to atrazine from private well water.
  • Exposure to atrazine in drinking water depends upon the concentration of atrazine in the drinking water and the amount of water consumed by the individual. Water consumption varies by such factors as climate and level of physical activity.
  • Many factors can affect whether exposure can lead to a health problem, including level of contamination, amount of water consumed, and the length of time water was contaminated. Some populations may be more susceptible to health problems following exposure, such as pregnant woman, children, and immune suppressed individuals.
  • This website provides a summary of drinking water violations by community. Consumer Confidence Reports on public drinking water quality are required to be provided annually to consumers. Your Community Water System should be contacted for this report, which will provide more detailed information on any specific water system violations.
  • Community Water Systems (CWSs) can serve areas substantially beyond the boundaries of the principal city/town served.
  • Multiple CWSs can serve the same city/town and multiple cities/towns can be served by a single.
  • A PDF list of all Massachusetts Community Water Systems and the communities served is available here.

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Water Quality Measures for Atrazine

Click the Explore Maps & Tables link button on this page to access the following measures for atrazine in your community. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year.

To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual home or family.

  • Maximum atrazine concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean atrazine concentration by number of Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Maximum atrazine concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean atrazine concentration by number of people served by the Community Water Systems and year of testing
  • Mean atrazine concentration by individual Community Water System or county and year of testing
  • Drinking water violations by Community Water System or community and year of violation
More About the Data
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