Environment international

Impacts of atrazine in aquatic ecosystems.

PMID 11485216


A portion of all herbicides applied to forests, croplands, road sides, and gardens are inevitably lost to water bodies either directly through runoff or indirectly by leaching through groundwater into ephemeral streams and lakes. Once in the aquatic environment, herbicides may cause stress within aquatic communities and radically alter community structure. Atrazine is one of the most effective and inexpensive herbicides in the world and is consequently used more frequently than any other herbicide. Atrazine is frequently detected in aquatic waters, and has been known to affect reproduction of aquatic flora and fauna, which in turn impacts on the community structure as a whole. This paper presents a summary of the reported direct and indirect impacts of atrazine on aquatic organisms and community structure. The information can be used for developing improved management guidelines and legislation. It is concluded that a single universal maximum limit on the atrazine application in catchments, as suggested by many regulatory authorities, does not provide adequate protection of the aquatic environment. Rather, it is advocated that flexible limits on the application of atrazine be developed in line with the potential risk of contamination to surface and subsurface water and fragility of the aquatic environment.