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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Pesticides in Iowa Precipitation


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 21 No. 3, p. 486-492
    Received: Aug 9, 1991

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. B.K. Nations * and
  2. G.R. Hallberg
  1. Iowa Dep. of Natural Resources, Geological Survey Bureau, 109 Trowbridge Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242.



Rainfall was sampled for pesticides to assess their occurrence in precipitation and potential impacts on water resources. Three areas in Iowa were sampled; two localities were in rural settings, and a third in an urban area. Fourteen pesticides, including ten herbicides and four insecticides, were detected from October 1987 through September 1990. Atrazine, alachlor, cyanazine, and metolachlor were the most commonly detected, with one or more of these four herbicides found in almost every rainfall sample during the growing season. Concentrations of individual pesticides ranged from 0.1 µg L−1 to 40.0 µg L−1, with most detections under 1.0 µg L−1. Pesticide detections in rainfall began in April and ended in July or August, probably related to the timing of chemical application and greater volatilization rates during warmer weather. Samples from the urban site had detections of the same agricultural chemicals found at the rural sites, but in lesser quantities. In addition to the commonly detected herbicides, three of the four insecticides detected in rainfall were only found in urban samples. Two of these have urban as well as agricultural uses. Some variation of pesticide detections were seen at the three sampling localities, related to regional and local use patterns. Concentrations were greater at sampling sites near fields where pesticides are applied, suggesting that local volatilization and distance of transport affect the concentrations in rainfall. Pesticide concentrations were highest at the beginning of a rainfall event with concentrations becoming lower in samples taken later in the event.

This work was supported, in part, by a grant from the USEPA, Region VII; and by the Integrated Farm Management Demonstration Project of the Agricultural Energy Management Fund, State of Iowa, through the Iowa Dep. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Big Spring Basin Demonstration Project, with funds provided through the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act; and through analytical services of the Univ. Hygienic Lab.

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