Glyphosate Facts

Transparency on safety aspects and use of glyphosate-containing herbicides in Europe


Does glyphosate impair water quality?

Glyphosate, the active ingredient of a diverse range of herbicide products, is unlikely to leach into groundwater, since it binds tightly to soils typically used in agriculture. The same applies to AMPA, the main degradation product of glyphosate. This has been confirmed by a large number of European monitoring studies: glyphosate and AMPA are rarely found in groundwater and usually only under exceptional circumstances, for example in very porous soil prone to rapid and uneven movement of water, or groundwater in direct contact with surface water.

(© Trout55)

Glyphosate and AMPA may reach surface water through run-off, drainage, spray drift and occasionally as a result of bad agricultural practices. Although the presence of these substances is more widespread in surface water than in groundwater, levels in surface water rarely exceed the threshold of environmental concern.

The presence of glyphosate and AMPA in surface and ground water does not pose a threat to human health.  Glyphosate and AMPA are easily removed from raw water by conventional drinking water treatment methods (which include sand filtration and chlorination). In addition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the observed concentrations in environmental waters are several orders of magnitude lower than the permitted safety threshold.  The WHO concludes that the establishment of a numerical guideline value for glyphosate is not deemed necessary. The occasional incidence of glyphosate and/or AMPA in drinking water would not represent a hazard to human health.

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Last update: 03 June 2013