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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Submissions: Agricultural Air Quality

Determination of Volatile Organic Compound Emissions and Ozone Formation from Spraying Solvent-based Pesticides


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 5, p. 1423-1431
    Received: Dec 11, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): pggreen@ucdavis.edu
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  1. Anuj Kumarab,
  2. Cody J. Howardb,
  3. Doniche Derrickc,
  4. Irina L. Malkinade,
  5. Frank M. Mitloehnerd,
  6. Michael J. Kleemanbc,
  7. Christopher P. Alaimob,
  8. Robert G. Flocchinia and
  9. Peter G. Green bc
  1. a Crocker Nuclear Lab., Univ. of California Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616
    b Dep. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Univ. of California Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616
    c Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry Graduate Group, Univ. of California Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616
    d Dep. of Animal Science, 2151 Meyer Hall, Univ. of California Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616
    e current address: California Air Resource Board, 1001 “I” St., P.O. Box 2815, Sacramento, CA 95812


Large-scale agricultural activities have come under scrutiny for possible contributions to the emission of ozone precursors. The San Joaquin Valley (SJV) of California is an area with intense agricultural activity that exceeds the federal ozone standards for more than 30 to 40 d yr−1 and the more stringent state standards for more than 100 d yr−1. Pesticides are used widely in both agricultural and residential subregions of the SJV, but the largest use, by weight of “active ingredient,” is in agriculture. The objective of the study was to determine the role of pesticide application on airborne volatile organic compounds (VOC) concentrations and ozone formation in the SJV. The ozone formation from the pesticide formulation sprayed on commercial orchards was studied using two transportable smog chambers at four application sites during the summers of 2007 and 2008. In addition to the direct measurements of ozone formation, airborne VOC concentrations were measured before and after pesticide spraying using canister and sorbent tube sampling techniques. Soil VOC concentrations were also measured to understand the distribution of VOCs between different environmental compartments. Numerous VOCs were detected in the air and soil samples throughout the experiment but higher molecular weight aromatic hydrocarbons were the primary compounds observed in elevated concentrations immediately after pesticide spraying. Measurements indicate that the ozone concentration formed by VOC downwind of the orchard may increase up to 15 ppb after pesticide application, with a return back to prespray levels after 1 to 2 d.

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