Nov 16, 2018

Environmental Group Finds Herbicide Contamination Under-Reported

According to the report, the contamination in drinking water is commonly tested when the herbicide is not in use

Drinking water contaminated by herbicide
Drinking water contaminated by herbicide

A new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that nearly 30 million Americans in 28 states have some level of atrazine in their tap water, the second most widely used weed killer in the U.S. The report found that 472 water utility systems in Texas tested positive in at least one detection for the chemical, according to the Texas Tribune.

EWG compared 2017 federal testing data collected at utilities in seven states with levels reported to state authorities over the same period of time. The group concluded that for 70% of utilities analyzed tests were conducted outside periods of the atrazine spikes or reported levels  below what U.S. EPA tests found. Based off of this date, the group found that water utilities are testing for atrazine at times when farmers are not using the chemical, in order to receive results within compliance with federal regulations.

According to EWG, EPA’s limit for atrazine in drinking water is 3 ppb, however, EPA data for 2017 shows that water utilities in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio had atrazine spikes much higher than the federal legal limit for the chemical. The two highest spikes were in Evansville, Ill., at 22 ppb, and Piqua, Ohio, at 16 ppb. However, the Safe Drinking Water Act allos utilities to report only annual averages.

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