Pesticides in drinking water

Pesticides are present in almost 30% of all water supplies in Germany, according to the German Federal Environmental Agency.

The Bavarian State Office for Food Safety and Health was commissioned by the other health authorities to investigate 301 samples for pesticides, usually taken because of suspected risks. 26 samples came from private wells, while 275 samples came from communal supplies. The tests looked for approx. 90 active ingredients and their known metabolites. As in previous years, atrazine had (71%) and its degradation product desethylatrazine (78%) were most commonly found, followed by desethylsimazine (45%), propazine (40%), desethylterbuthylazin (38%), simazine (25%) , terbuthylazine (19%), 2,6-dichlorobenzamide (15%), and ethidimuron (15%). Unlike the other triazines at levels far below the limit of 0.1 µg/l per drinking water regulations (highest value: 0.04 µg/l), atrazine levels exceeded the max. allowable 0.37 µg/l in 34% of the samples while 52% of the samples showed desethylatrazine in excess of the max. allowable 0.60 µg/l.

Results like these came from tests ordered by local health departments when there was a suspected case are certainly not transferable to every water supply in the country. Nevertheless, the result shows that banned pesticides like atrazine are still showing up in our groundwater.

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