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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 4, p. 1068-1080
    Received: Nov 26, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): stehle@uni-landau.de
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Pesticide Risk Mitigation by Vegetated Treatment Systems: A Meta-Analysis

  1. Sebastian Stehle *a,
  2. David Elsaessera,
  3. Caroline Gregoireb,
  4. Gwenaël Imfeldb,
  5. Engelbert Niehausc,
  6. Elodie Passeportd,
  7. Sylvain Payraudeaub,
  8. Ralf B. Schäfera,
  9. Julien Tournebized and
  10. Ralf Schulza
  1. a Institute for Environmental Sciences, Univ. Koblenz-Landau, Im Fort 7, D-76829 Landau, Germany
    b Lab. of Hydrology and Geochemistry of Strasbourg, Univ. of Strasbourg/ENGEES, CNRS, BP 61039, 1 Quai Koch, 67070 Strasbourg, France
    c Institute of Mathematics, Univ. Koblenz-Landau, Im Fort 7, D-76829 Landau, Germany
    d Cemagref, Hydrosystem and Bioprocesses, BP 44, Parc de Tourvoie, 92163 Antony, France. Assigned to Associate Editor Ali Sadeghi


Pesticides entering agricultural surface waters threaten water quality and aquatic communities. Recently, vegetated treatment systems (VTSs) (e.g., constructed wetlands and vegetated ditches) have been proposed as pesticide risk mitigation measures. However, little is known about the effectiveness of VTSs in controlling nonpoint source pesticide pollution and factors relevant for pesticide retention within these systems. Here, we conducted a meta-analysis on pesticide mitigation by VTSs using data from the scientific literature and the European LIFE ArtWET project. Overall, VTSs effectively reduced pesticide exposure levels (i.e., the majority of pesticide retention performances was >70%). A multiple linear regression analysis of 188 retention performance cases identified the two pesticide properties, organic carbon sorption coefficient value and water-phase 50% dissipation time, as well as the VTS characteristics overall plant coverage and hydraulic retention time for targeting high efficacy of pesticide retention. The application of a Tier I risk assessment (EU Uniform Principle) revealed a higher toxicity reduction for hydrophobic and nonpersistent insecticides compared with less sorptive and not readily degradable herbicides and fungicides. Overall, nearly half (48.5%) of all pesticide field concentrations (n = 130) failed Tier I standard risk assessment at the inlet of VTSs, and 29.2% of all outlet concentrations exceeded conservative acute threshold levels. We conclude that VTSs are a suitable and effective risk mitigation strategy for agricultural nonpoint source pesticide pollution of surface waters. Further research is needed to improve their overall efficacy in retaining pesticides.

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