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What is atrazine?

Glass of water on a table

Atrazine is a pesticide used to kill weeds in corn and other crops.

How can I be exposed to atrazine?

People can be exposed to atrazine through air, direct contact, drinking water, and soil.


People can be exposed to atrazine in the air if close to fields where atrazine is being applied.

Direct contact

Additionally, people who work with atrazine can be exposed through direct contact. when working with products that contain atrazine.

Drinking water

People can be exposed to atrazine from private well water. Atrazine can get into groundwater from field use, spills, and improper disposal.


People can be exposed to atrazine by swallowing small amounts of dirt after working in the yard or garden where atrazine has been applied or could have traveled from nearby application.

How can atrazine affect my health?

Eye or skin irritation may occur immediately or shortly after handling atrazine.

Exposure to high levels of atrazine can damage the liver, kidney, and heart.

How can I protect myself and my family from atrazine?

Stay indoors with the windows closed when any pesticide is being applied near your home.

Wear protective clothing and gloves when using atrazine products and shower or change clothes when done to avoid bringing it into your home.

Public water users

If the level of atrazine in the water is above Wisconsin's drinking water standard, your water system will issue a public notice. The public notice will include information on the levels detected, the actions that the system is taking to address the problem, and any steps that you should take to reduce exposure.

Private well users

Test for atrazine if you live near agricultural fields or areas where pesticides are made, stored, or mixed.

Take action if the atrazine level is equal to or greater than 300 micrograms per liter (µg/L).

  • Contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) at or 608-224-4502 for a free, follow-up sample.

Take additional action if the atrazine level is still high.

  • Use a different source of water for drinking and preparing foods that take up a lot of water (like oatmeal, rice, and gelatin).
    • Options include bottled water, water from a well without issues, and water from a public system without violations.
  • It is ok to use the water for bathing, brushing teething, and washing dishes.
  • Find a long-term solution. Options include installing a certified treatment device and drilling a new well.

Our Atrazine in Private Well Water fact sheet, P-03500 has these steps in printable format.

Practicing safe gardening habits can lower exposure to all kinds of soil contaminants, including atrazine. These habits include

  • Wearing gloves when working in the garden.
  • Using raised garden beds with clean soil, such as store-bought soil, topsoil, or clean fill from certified sources.
  • Adding natural matter like composts and manure to the soil.
  • Not eating food, drinking, and smoking when working in the garden.
  • Not track dirt from the garden into the house.
  • Washing hands after gardening and before eating.
  • Washing fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Peeling root crops and removing outer leaves of leafy vegetables before eating.

Who regulates atrazine in Wisconsin?

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) regulates how and where atrazine can be used in Wisconsin. DATCP has prohibited atrazine use in 101 areas across the state due to groundwater contamination.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulates how much atrazine can be discharged to groundwater and how much can be in water served by public water systems.

Related topics

Our groundwater standards page has information on how Wisconsin's groundwater standards are set, DHS' role in the process, and a summary of the current and recommended standards including atrazine.

DATCP's atrazine page has information on atrazine prohibited use areas in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council Annual Report to the Legislature summarizes the operations and activities occurring within the state to address groundwater issues including atrazine.

The University of Wisconsin - Steven Point Well Water Quality Interactive Viewer shows water quality data from a variety of contaminants (including atrazine) at a county, township, and section levels.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ToxFAQs page has more information on atrazine exposure routes and health effects.

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Last revised April 9, 2024