Main content area

Agricultural pesticides and selected degradation products in five tidal regions and the main stem of Chesapeake Bay, USA

McConnell, L.L., Rice, C.P., Hapeman, C.J., Drakeford, L., Harman-Fetcho, J.A., Bialek, K., Fulton, M.H., Leight, A.K., Allen, G.
Environmental toxicology and chemistry 2007 v.26 no.12 pp. 2567
water pollution, pesticides, water quality, environmental monitoring, agricultural land, degradation, urban areas, atrazine, metolachlor, river water, salinity, agricultural watersheds, point source pollution, spatial distribution, environmental fate, estuaries, surface water, Chesapeake Bay
Nutrients, sediment, and toxics from water sources and the surrounding airshed are major problems contributing to poor water quality in many regions of the Chesapeake Bay, an important estuary located in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. During the early spring of 2000, surface water samples were collected for pesticide analysis from 18 stations spanning the Chesapeake Bay. In a separate effort from July to September of 2004, 61 stations within several tidal regions were characterized with respect to 21 pesticides and 11 of their degradation products. Three regions were located on the agricultural Delmarva Peninsula: The Chester, Nanticoke, and Pocomoke Rivers. Two regions were located on the more urban western shore: The Rhode and South Rivers and the Lower Mobjack Bay, including the Back and Poquoson Rivers. In both studies, herbicides and their degradation products were the most frequently detected chemicals. In 2000, atrazine and metolachlor were found at all 18 stations. In 2004, the highest parent herbicide concentrations were found in the upstream region of Chester River. The highest concentration for any analyte in these studies was for the ethane sulfonic acid of metolachlor (MESA) at 2,900 ng/L in the Nanticoke River. The degradation product MESA also had the greatest concentration of any analyte in the Pocomoke River (2,100 ng/L) and in the Chester River (1,200 ng/L). In the agricultural tributaries, herbicide degradation product concentrations were more strongly correlated with salinity than the parent herbicides. In the two nonagricultural watersheds on the western shore, no gradient in herbicide concentrations was observed, indicating the pesticide source to these areas was water from the Bay main stem.