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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances


U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the Technical Meeting Charleston South Carolina March 8-12,1999--Volume 2 of 3--Contamination of Hydrologic Systems and Related Ecosystems, Water-Resources Investigation Report 99-4018B

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Analysis of Selected Herbicide Metabolites in Surface and Ground Water of the United States

By Elisabeth A. Scribner, E.M. Thurman, and Lisa R. Zimmerman

This report is available in pdf format: pdfScribner.pdf


One of the primary goals of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) laboratory in Lawrence, Kansas, is to develop analytical methods for the analysis of herbicide metabolites in surface and ground water that are vital to the study of herbicide fate and degradation pathways in the environment. Methods to measure metabolite concentrations from three major classes of herbicides--triazine, chloroacetanilide, and phenyl- urea--have been developed. Methods for triazine metabolite detection cover nine compounds; six compounds are detected by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, one is detected by high-performance liquid chromatography with diode-array detection, and eight are detected by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Two metabolites of the chloroacetanilde herbicides--ethane sulfonic acid and oxanilic acid--are detected by high-performance liquid chromatography with diode-array detection and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Alachlor ethane sulfonic acid also has been detected by solid-phase extraction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Six phenylurea metabolites are all detected by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry; four of the six metabolites also are detected by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.

Additionally, surveys of herbicides and their metabolites in surface water, ground water, lakes, reservoirs, and rainfall have been conducted through the USGS laboratory in Lawrence. These surveys have been useful in determining herbicide and metabolite occurrence and temporal distribution and have shown that metabolites may be useful in evaluation of nonpoint-source contamination.

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