USGS - science for a changing world

Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Research Projects

Pesticide Contamination in Varied Pesticide-Use Settings

USGS technicians collecting water samples from a bridge for a reconnaissance of herbicide concentrations in streams.
USGS technicians collecting water samples from a bridge for a reconnaissance of herbicide concentrations in streams -- from the Agricultural Chemicals in the Upper Midwest Project

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New pesticides are developed continually, and increasingly, degradation byproducts of legacy and current-use pesticides are discovered. Information on the environmental occurrence of these chemicals is needed to evaluate their potential environmental and human health significance. This project activity has two-fold objectives: (1) develop methods to measure new pesticides and their byproducts in samples of various environmental media at concentrations relevant to assessing their persistence, transport, and fate; and (2) gather information on the environmental occurrence of these chemicals in sensitive and/or susceptible ecosystems near areas of common use of the pesticide, such as areas of similar land use, crop types, and/or farming practices. Pesticide-use studies in selected settings include:

Herbicides and other Agricultural Chemicals -- Midwest Cornbelt

Cotton Agriculture -- Southern United States

Agricultural Chemicals in Ground Water -- Plains, Georgia [Completed]

Transport of Herbicides in Streams and Shallow Ground Water , Cedar River, Iowa [Completed]

Program Headlines Related to Pesticide Research

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  • Glyphosate and its degradation product AMPA occur frequently and widely in US soils, surface water, groundwater, and precipitation: Battaglin, W.A., Meyer, M.T., Kuivila, K.M., and Dietze, J.E., Journal of the American Water Resources Association (IN PRESS).

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