National assessment of long-term groundwater response to pesticide regulation

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Quantitative assessments of long-term, national-scale responses of groundwater quality to pesticide applications are essential to evaluate the effectiveness of pesticide regulations. Retardation time in the unsaturated zone (Ru) was estimated for selected herbicides (atrazine, simazine, and bentazon) and degradation products (desethylatrazine (DEA), desisopropylatrazine (DIA), desethyldesisopropylatrazine (DEIA), and BAM) using a multidecadal time series of groundwater solute chemistry (∼30 years) and herbicide sales (∼60 years). The sampling year was converted to recharge year using groundwater age. Then, Ruwas estimated using a cross-correlation analysis of the sales and the frequencies of detection and exceedance of the drinking water standard (0.1 μg/L) of each selected compound. The results showed no retardation of the highly polar, thus mobile, parent compounds (i.e., bentazon), while Ruof the moderately polar compounds (i.e., simazine) was about a decade, and their degradation products showed even longer Ru. The temporal trends of the degradation products did not mirror those of the sale data, which were attributed to the various sale periods of the parent compounds, sorption of the parent compounds, and complex degradation pathways. The longer Ruin clayey/organic sediments than in sandy sediments further confirmed the role of soil-specific retardation as an important factor to consider in groundwater protection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14387-14396
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2022


  • groundwater
  • lag time
  • national assessment
  • pesticides
  • retardation time
  • transport time

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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