Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 369–378

Atrazine contamination in agricultural soils from the Yangtze River Delta of China and associated health risks

Original Paper


Atrazine is one of the most widely applied and persistent herbicides in the world. In view of limited information on the regional contamination of atrazine in soils in China, this study investigated the spatial distribution and environmental impacts of atrazine in agricultural soils collected from the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) as an illustrative analysis of rapidly developing regions in the country. The results showed that the concentrations of atrazine in the YRD agricultural soils ranged from <1.0 to 113 ng/g dry weight, with a mean of 5.7 ng/g, and a detection rate of 57.7 % in soils. Pesticide factory might be a major source for the elevated levels of atrazine in Zhejiang Province. The contamination of atrazine was closely associated with land use types. The concentrations and detection rates of atrazine were higher in corn fields and mulberry fields than in rice paddy fields. There was no significant difference in compositions of soil microbial phospholipids fatty acids among the areas with different atrazine levels. Positive relationship (R = 0.417, p < 0.05, n = 30) was observed between atrazine and total microbial biomass. However, other factors, such as soil type and land management practice, might have stronger influences on soil microbial communities. Human health risks via exposure to atrazine in soils were estimated according to the methods recommended by the US EPA. Atrazine by itself in all the soil samples imposed very low carcinogenic risks (<10−6) and minimal non-cancer risks (hazard index <1) to adults and children.


Herbicide Spatial distribution Farmlands Microbial communities Risks Regional survey 

Supplementary material

10653_2016_9853_MOESM1_ESM.docx (25 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 25 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHung Hom, KowloonHong Kong

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