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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Organic Compounds in the Environment

Distribution and Persistence of Pyrethroids in Runoff Sediments


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 3, p. 836-841
    Received: June 23, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): jgan@ucr.edu
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  1. J. Gan *a,
  2. S. J. Leea,
  3. W. P. Liub,
  4. D. L. Haverc and
  5. J. N. Kabashimac
  1. a Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521
    b Department of Environmental Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, 310029
    c University of California Corporative Extension-Orange County, Irvine, CA 92626


Pyrethroids are commonly used insecticides in both agricultural and urban environments. Recent studies showed that surface runoff facilitated transport of pyrethroids to surface streams, probably by sediment movement. Sediment contamination by pyrethroids is of concern due to their wide-spectrum aquatic toxicity. In this study, we characterized the spatial distribution and persistence of bifenthrin [BF; (2-methyl(1,1′-biphenyl)-3-yl)methyl 3-(2-chloro-3,3,3-trifluoro-1-propenyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylate] and permethrin [PM; 3-(2,2-dichloroethenyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylic acid (3-phenoxyphenyl)methyl ester] in the sediment along a 260-m runoff path. Residues of BF and PM were significantly enriched in the eroded sediment, and the magnitude of enrichment was proportional to the downstream distance. At 145 m from the sedimentation pond, BF was enriched by >25 times, while PM isomers were enriched by >3.5 times. Pesticide enrichment along the runoff path coincided with enrichment of organic carbon and clay fractions in the sediment, as well as increases in adsorption coefficient K d, suggesting that the runoff flow caused selective transport of organic matter and chemical-rich fine particles. Long persistence was observed for BF under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions, and the half-life ranged from 8 to 17 mo at 20°C. The long persistence was probably caused by the strong pesticide adsorption to the solid phase. The significant enrichment, along with the prolonged persistence, suggests that movement of pyrethroids to the surface water may be caused predominantly by the chemically rich fine particles. It is therefore important to understand the fate of sediment-borne pyrethroids and devise mitigation strategies to reduce offsite movement of fine sediment.

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