Atrazine is the common name for an herbicide that is widely used to kill weeds. It is used mostly on farms. Pure atrazine-an odorless, white powder-is not very volatile, reactive, or flammable. It will dissolve in water. Atrazine is made in the laboratory and does not occur naturally.
Atrazine is used on crops such as sugarcane, corn, pineapples, sorghum, and macadamia nuts, and on evergreen tree farms and for evergreen forest regrowth. It has also been used to keep weeds from growing on both highway and railroad rights-of-way. Atrazine can be sprayed on croplands before crops start growing and after they have emerged from the soil. Some of the trade names of atrazine are Aatrex®, Aatram®, Atratol®, and Gesaprim®. The scientific name for atrazine is 6-chloro-N-ethyl-N’-(1-methylethyl)-triazine-2,4-diamine. Atrazine is a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP), which means that only certified herbicide users may purchase or use atrazine. Certification for the use of atrazine is obtained through the appropriate state office where the herbicide user is licensed.
Certified herbicide workers (see Section 1.7) may spread atrazine on crops or croplands as a powder, liquid, or in a granular form. Atrazine is usually used in the spring and summer months. For it to be active, atrazine needs to dissolve in water and enter the plants through their roots. It then acts in the shoots and leaves of the weed to stop photosynthesis. Atrazine is taken up by all plants, but in plants not affected by atrazine, it is broken down before it can have an effect on photosynthesis. The application of atrazine to crops as an herbicide accounts for almost all of the atrazine that enters the environment, but some may be released from manufacture, formulation, transport, and disposal.
Complete information about the sources, properties, and uses of atrazine can be found in Chapters 4 and 5 of this profile.
For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-57
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO · 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Email: contact CDC-INFO
ATSDR can also tell you the location of occupational and environmental health clinics. These clinics specialize in recognizing, evaluating, and treating illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances.
Need a water filter that will remove this? Checkout our line of whole house water filters.