Urban areas as sources of the groundwater contaminants N,N-dimethylsulfamide (N,N-DMS) and 1,2,4-triazole

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Urban pollution from biocides used in building materials has raised emerging concern within recent years. The evidence that the use of biocides can pollute urban groundwaters is very limited, but in Denmark, the common degradation product from the two fungicides tolylfluanid and dichlofluanid, N,N-DMS, is particularly abundant in groundwater within urban areas, which suggests an urban source in addition to its well-known agricultural sources. In addition, another widespread groundwater pollutant, 1,2,4-triazole, may originate from the fungicides propiconazole and tebuconazole, that are also used in outdoor paint and wood protection products. To study the potential pollution of groundwater from fungicides used in outdoor paint and wood protection products, we surveyed concentrations in groundwater in two urban areas, we tested leaching from facades and soil concentrations close to facades and fences, and in lab-experiments, we determined the fate of N,N-DMS and 1,2,4-triazole under different redox conditions in soil sampled down to 7 m below surface. Shallow urban groundwater contained up to 1 μg/L N,N-DMS with concentrations of 0.1–0.3 μg/L below a typical Danish residential area. Despite a phase-out of tolylfluanid and dichlofluanid in paint in 2015, both compounds still wash-off wooden facades and fences and was detected in soil next to the treated wood. Much higher soil concentrations, however, were found for propiconazole and tebuconazole and their common degradation product 1,2,4-triazole, reflecting the fact that they are still in use in outdoor paint and wood protection products. 1,2,4-Triazole also leached to groundwater, but concentrations decreased sharply with depth, probably due to degradation that occurred at all tested soil depths and redox conditions. N,N-DMS, on the other hand, was not degraded in deeper soil layers or under anoxic conditions. Consequently, N,N-DMS may persist in groundwater below populated areas well into the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number163377
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2023


  • Biocide
  • Degradation
  • Leaching
  • Sorption
  • Transformation
  • Urban pollution

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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