Environmental Protection
                                 Office of Pesticides and
                                 Toxic Substances
                                     Pall 1990
 National Pesticide  Survey
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     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has completed its five-year
National Survey of Pesticides in Drinking Water Wells (NPS), a study of the presence
of 127 pesticides, pesticide degradates, and nitrate in community water system (CWS)
wells and rural domestic drinking water wells. Prometon was one of the pesticides
detected in the Survey. This fact sheet provides a discussion of prometon, its
potential health effects, and guidance on both treating and preventing well

     Prometon is the common name of an herbicide which has been sold under the
trade names of Pramitol, Gesafram, Primatol, Orrtracic, and Gesagram.  Prometon is
also a component of other herbicides such as Atratol and Pramitol 5PS.  Prometon is
an herbicide commonly used to control the emergence of most annual and many
perennial broadleaf weeds and grasses in non-agricultural areas generally for a full
season or longer.

     The behavior of a pesticide after it is released to the environment is dependent
upon its movement in air, water, and soil as well as the rate at which it is transformed,
or broken down. Pesticides applied to crops or the soil surface may volatilize
(vaporize) to the atmosphere, be carried off by surface runoff, be carried to ground
water through leaching, or remain in the soil through adsorption (adherence) to soil
particles and undergo little movement in air or water. Pesticides may be transformed
by reaction with water, microorganisms, and exposure to sunlight. The likelihood that
prometon will migrate into ground water is influenced by its tendency to be
transported (move) from soil to air and water and to be transformed by these various
processes, as well as by the characteristics of the site, such as soil type, moisture.
temperature, and depth to ground water.  Prometon has a high potential to be
transported, and a medium potential to be transformed.

     Prometon migration into ground water could result from the presence of
prometon in the soil due to applications of prometon on non-agricultural land.
Prometon could also reach the ground water from direct entry into a well through
accidental chemical spills or improper storage near a well.
NPS Prometon

Findings of
the National
What Health
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      Based on the results of the NPS, EPA estimates that prometon is present, at or
above the analytical detection level of 0.15 pg/L used in the Survey, in about 520
(0.5%) CWS wells and 25,600 (0.2%) rural domestic wells nationwide. Considering the
precision of the Survey, EPA estimates that the number of CWS wells could be as low
as 78 or as high as 1,710, and the number of rural domestic wells could be as low as
640 or as high as 142,000. Prometon is measured in micrograms per liter (^g/L)
which is equivalent to parts per billion (ppb).  Prometon was not detected at
concentrations above EPA's drinking water Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 100 pg/L

Non-Cancer Effect*:  EPA has set a Lifetime Health Advisory Level (HAL) for
prometon in drinking water at 100 p/g/L EPA believes that water containing prometon
at or below this level is acceptable for drinking every day over the course of one's
lifetime, and does not pose health concerns.  Lifetime HALs are based on health
effects that were found in animals given high doses of the pesticides in laboratory
studies. This level  includes a margin of safety.  However, consuming prometon at
high levels well above the Lifetime Health Advisory Level over a long period of time
has been shown in animal studies to result in adverse effects on growth.

Cancer Ritk:  Data from laboratory studies are inadequate for EPA to determine if
prometon can increase the risk of cancer in humans.

Standard:  EPA sets enforceable standards for public water systems, called Maximum
Contaminant Levels (MCLs). These regulatory standards set achievable levels of
drinking water quality to protect human health.  EPA has not established an MCL for
prometon, but plans to list prometon on the Drinking Water Priority List for future

      Prometon can be detected in drinking water by a laboratory using an EPA
method such as #507.  If prometon is  detected in well water and confirmed by
retesting to be above 100 /;g/L, State or County health officials should be consulted.
They may advise periodic retesting to get an accurate overall picture of the water
quality because changes in seasonal precipitation and changes in pesticide use can
cause variations in  the amount of chemicals found in water wells. They also may
advise using an alternative drinking water supply  (bottled water is an example of a
temporary alternative), treating the water, or drilling a new or deeper well. If you
receive your well water from a community water system, and have concerns about the
quality of your water, contact your State public water supply agency.

      You may also be able to treat your well water to remove pesticides and other
contaminants. Treatment technologies that can remove prometon from water to
varying degrees include granular activated carbon adsorption, resin adsorption, and
reverse osmosis. However, these techniques are not necessarily appropriate or
available in every situation. Certain treatment methods are more suitable for  large
community water systems than for individual domestic wells.  State or County health
officials should be able to provide advice on the best approach to follow.

      Several steps may be taken to prevent pesticides or nitrate from entering wells,
such as eliminating direct entry through the well wall, drilling a new well, or modifying
or reducing pesticide and fertilizer use.

Eliminate D/ntcf Entry Through tne Wall Wall

      If pesticides  or nitrate are present in well water, they may be entering the
ground water through the well itself rather than through the soil. If the well is old or
poorfy constructed, or if there are visible cracks in the well casing, obtain expert
advice on whether  or not improvements can be made to the well.  In addition,
investigate simple methods of capping the well or sealing it at the surface to prevent
                                                                                       NPS Piwnaton

Why was the
Where to Go
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entry. Do not conduct any mixing activities near the well if you use well water to mix
pesticides because a spill could lead to direct contamination of the well.

Drill a New Will

      If the soil surrounding the well is the source of contamination, drilling a new or
deeper well may make sense if water can be drawn from a deeper, uncontaminated
aquifer.  Unfortunately, it often is difficult to know the quality of the ground water
without drilling or extensive testing. Seek expert advice before you drill.

Learn More about Ptst/c/de Use

      If you use pesticides, whether for agricultural or home lawn and garden
purposes, you should consider attending training courses given by your State or
County agriculture department on  how to reduce activities that can contaminate
ground water.  You may find that you can eliminate or lessen the frequency or quantity
of your pesticide usage by choosing alternative methods of pest control.

      EPA conducted this Survey  to determine the frequency and concentration of
pesticides, pesticide degradates, and nitrate in drinking water wells nationwide and to
examine the relationship between  the presence of pesticides in drinking water wells
and patterns of pesticide use and  ground-water vulnerability.  The Survey sampled
566 community water system wells and 783 rural domestic wells for 127 pesticides,
pesticide degradates, and nitrate.  The wells were selected as a representative
statistical sample to provide nationwide estimates of the presence of pesticides  and
nitrate in  drinking water wells, and are not meant to  provide an assessment of
pesticide contamination at the local, County, or State level.

     This fact sheet is pan of a series of NPS outreach materials, fact sheets and
reports.  The following additional fact sheets are available through EPA's Public
Information Center (401 M Street SW, Washington, DC 20460, (202) 382-2080):
                  Survey Des/gn

                  Survey Anafytes

                  Qua/Ay Assurance/
                  Quality Control
                            An»tytic»l Method*

                            Summary ftesufts

                            Fact Sfteef for eecn
                            detected anafyfe
Project Summary


How EPA Will Use
The NPS flesu/ts
                       Additional information on the Survey and on pesticides in general can be
                  obtained from the following sources:
                  U.S. EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline
                  1-800-426^791 (In Washington, DC (202) 382-5533)
                  Monday-Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Eastern Time

                  National Pesticide Telecommunications Network
                  24 hours a day

                  U.S. EPA Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) Docket
                  Public Information Branch (H7506C)
                  401 M  Street,  SW
                  Washington, DC  20460
                  Telephone:  (703)  55T-2805
                                                  Information on regulation of
                                                  pesticides in drinking

                                                  Information on health
                                                  effects and safe
                                                  handling of pesticides

                                                  Background Documents
                                                  for Survey (available
                                                  for review)
NPS Promtton

                  National Technical Information Service (NTIS)         Copies of the
                  5285 Port Royal Road                              NPS Phase I Report
                  Springfield, VA 22161                              (available 1991)
                  (703) 487-4650                                    and
                                                                   NPS Phase II Report
                                                                   (when available)

                       If you are concerned about the presence of pesticides and nitrate in your
                  private  water well, contact your local or State health department.  Other experts in
                  your State environmental agency or agriculture and health departments may also be
                  helpful  to you.  If you receive your drinking water from a community water system and
                  have questions about your water quality, contact your local community water system
                  owner/operator or the State water supply agency.

Bibliography    Meister Publications. Farm Chemicals Handbook. Ohio:  Meister Publications, 1990.

                  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Drinking Water Health Advisory: Pesticides.
                  Michigan:  Lewis Publishers, 1989.

                  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Drinking Water Regulations and Health
                  Advisories. April, 1990.

                  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Health Advisory Summaries. January 1989.

                  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticides in Drinking Water Wells.  September

                  Weed Science Society of America. Herbicide Handbook of the Weed Science Society
                  of America 5th ed. Illinois: Weed Science  Society of America, 1983.

                  Worthing, Charles R., ed.  The Pesticide Manual. 8th ed. Thornton Heath:  The British
                  Crop Protection Council, 1987.
                                                                                      NPS Promtton