Linkage of Atrazine Exposure and Birth Data in Kentucky: Assessment of Data Sources and Needs

Atrazine is a herbicide widely used in production agriculture, and its potential for contamination of water supplies is a significant rural public health concern. This study, funded through the 2008 Feasibility Projects Program of the Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention, examined data from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the Kentucky Geological Survey, and the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics to explore the potential association between atrazine levels in drinking water and adverse birth outcomes. The research team utilized data from public water supplies, ground well water sources, and atrazine sales in Kentucky, and analyzed statewide vital statistics data on all births over a three-year period to derive measures of prematurity, low birth weight, and associated outcomes. This project was designed to identify gaps in the characterization of atrazine in water supplies used for human consumption, particularly in rural areas with extensive well water use and where agricultural activities suggest potential for elevated exposures.

Principal Investigator Claudia Hopenhayn, MPH, PhD; Associate Professor of Epidemiology in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health. Dr. Hopenhayn has published widely on the effects of arsenic in drinking water in Latin America and elsewhere. Co-Principal Investigator Vijay Golla, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Western Kentucky University College of Health and Human Services. In his doctoral research at the University of Iowa, Dr. Golla studied the exposure of farm families to take-home pesticide levels.

For more information contact Claudia Hopenhayn, MPH, PhD Associate Professor Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health Markey Cancer Control Program University of Kentucky, 2365 Harrodsburg Road, Suite B100 Lexington, KY 40504-3381 Phone: (859) 219-0773 ext. 307