News Feature | November 28, 2018

Hormone-Disrupting Herbicide Widely Detected In Tap Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

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A new report from an environmental group points to a potential atrazine problem in tap water.

“Atrazine is a herbicide commonly detected in drinking water that comes from cornfield and other agricultural runoff. It is a hormone disrupter that harms the male and female reproductive systems of people and wildlife,” Environmental Working Group writes on its website.

The second-most sprayed weed killer in the U.S., atrazine was detected in 27 states at 1361 different utilities, affecting a population of 29 million ratepayers.

“Comparing the test results submitted by water utilities to state environmental regulators to those from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group concluded that water utilities are testing for atrazine at times when farmers aren’t using it — the growing season typically spans late spring and early summer — and also appear to be lowballing their numbers. The group is calling for updates to federal drinking water standards,” The Texas Tribune reported.

EWG stated in a release: “Seasonal spikes of atrazine, a weed killer that disrupts hormones and harms the developing fetus, contaminate the drinking water of millions of Americans at potentially hazardous levels as run-off from corn-growing areas finds its way into source waters and reservoirs.”

Texas had the highest number of utilities with contamination, clocking in at 472. It had 332 utilities above health guidelines. As far as the utility with the highest amount of atrazine in 2015, the city of Richmond, KS, took that title.

Environmental Working Group is calling for stricter limits on atrazine, which has been linked to cancer.

“The group is concerned that the current federal water quality standards are too lax — that they allow utilities to use averages of test results to meet federal health limits, instead of individual samples that might exceed those thresholds,” The Nashville Tennessean reported.

Image credit: "running faucet," Steve Johnson © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/