Pesticides and their degradates in groundwater reflect past use and current management strategies, Long Island, New York, USA

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Long Island, New York, has a mix of urban/suburban to agricultural/horticultural land use and nearly 3 million residents that rely on a sole-source aquifer for drinking water. The analysis of shallow groundwater (<40 m below land surface) collected from 54 monitoring wells across Long Island detected 53 pesticides or pesticide degradates. Maximum concentrations for individual pesticides or pesticide degradates ranged from 3 to 368,000 ng/L. The highest concentrations and most frequent pesticide detections occurred in samples collected from the pesticide management (PM) network, set in an agricultural/horticultural area in eastern Long Island with coordinated pesticide management by state and local agencies. The other two networks (Suffolk and Nassau/Queens) were set in suburban and urban areas, respectively, and had less frequent detections and lower pesticide concentrations than the PM network. Pesticide detections and concentration patterns (herbicide, insecticide, or fungicide) differed among the three networks revealing broad differences in land use. The predominance of fungicides metalaxyl, 1H-1,2,4-triazole (propiconazole/myclobutanil degradate), and 4-hydroxychlorothalonil (HCTL, chlorothalonil degradate) in samples from the PM network reflects their intensive use in agricultural settings. Total fungicide concentrations in the PM network ranged from <10 to >300,000 ng/L. The widespread detection of imidacloprid and triazine herbicides, simazine and atrazine, reveal a mixture of current and past use pesticides across the Long Island region. Low concentrations (<200 ng/L) of the triazines in the Suffolk and Nassau/Queens networks may reflect a change in land use and application. Acetanilide herbicides and aldicarb have been discontinued for 20 and 40 years, respectively, yet the concentrations of their degradates were among the highest observed in this study. Acetanilide (total concentrations up to 10,000 ng/L) and aldicarb degradates (up to 270 ng/L) are present in the PM network at much lower concentrations than previous Long Island studies and reflect changes in agricultural practices and pesticide management.




Fisher, I. J., Phillips, P. J., Bayraktar, B. N., Chen, S., McCarthy, B. A., & Sandstrom, M. W. (2021). Pesticides and their degradates in groundwater reflect past use and current management strategies, Long Island, New York, USA. Science of the Total Environment, 752.

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