Effect of sediment on the fate of metolachlor and atrazine in surface water

Pamela J. Rice, Todd A. Anderson, Joel R. Coats

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33 Scopus citations


In aquatic environments, pesticides can partition between the dissolved phase and particulate phase depending on the type of suspended sediment present and the physical and chemical properties of the pesticides and water. Particulate matter and sediment can alter the bioavailability of contaminants to organisms and therefore influence their toxicity and availability for microbial degradation. Experiments were conducted to determine the degradation of atrazine (6-chloro-N-ethyl-N′ -(1-methylethyl)-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine) and metolachlor (2-chloro-N-(2-ethyl-6-methylphenyl)-N-(methooxyprop-2-yl)acetamide) in surface water, and to evaluate the contribution of sediment to their dissipation. Sediment significantly reduced concentrations of atrazine and metolachlor in the surface water as a result of greater degradation, evident by increased quantities of degradates in the surface water, and the partitioning of the herbicide or herbicide degradates in the sediment. First-order 50% dissipation time (DT50) values for atrazine and metolachlor were 42 and 8 d in the surface water-sediment incubation systems, which were almost four times less than the DT50s calculated for the sediment-free systems. The results of this research illustrate the importance of sediment in the fate of pesticides in surface water. Greater comprehension of the role of sediment to sequester or influence degradation of agrichemicals in aquatic systems will provide a better understanding of the bioavailability and potential toxicity of these contaminants to aquatic organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1155
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Degradation
  • Dissipation
  • Herbicides
  • Metabolites


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