Seasonal exposures to triazine and other pesticides in surface waters in the western Highveld corn-production region in South Africa

L. H. Du Preez, P. J. Jansen Van Rensburg, A. M. Jooste, J. A. Carr, J. P. Giesy, T. S. Gross, R. J. Kendall, E. E. Smith, G. Van Der Kraak, K. R. Solomon

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49 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to characterize concentrations of atrazine, terbuthylazine, and other pesticides in amphibian habitats in surface waters of a corn-production area of the western Highveld region (North-West Province) of South Africa. The study was conducted from November 2001 to June 2002, coinciding with the corn-production season. Pesticide residues were measured at regular intervals in surface water from eight ponds, three in a non-corn-growing area (NCGA) and five within the corn-growing area (CGA). Measured atrazine concentrations differed significantly among sites and between samples. In the five CGA sites, the maximum atrazine concentrations measured during the study ranged from 1.2 to 9.3 μg/L. Although no atrazine was recorded as being applied in the catchment of the three NCGA sites, maximum concentrations from 0.39 to 0.84 μg/L were measured during the study, possibly as a result of atmospheric transport. Maximum measured concentrations of terbuthylazine ranged from 1.22 to 2.1 μg/L in the NCGA sites and from 1.04 to 4.1 μg/L in the CGA sites. The source of terbuthylazine in the NCGA sites may have been in use other than in corn. The triazine degradation products, deisopropylatrazine (DIA) and deethylatrazine (DEA) and diaminochlorotriazine (DACT) were also found in water from both the CGA and NCGA sites. Concentrations of DIA were ≥ 1 μg/L throughout the season, while DEA concentrations were mostly <0.5 μg/L before planting but increased after planting and application of herbicides to concentrations > 2 μg/L in some locations. Concentrations of DACT were highly variable (LOD to 8 μg/L) both before and after planting and application, suggesting that they resulted from historical use of triazines in the area. Other herbicides such as simazine and acetochlor were only detected infrequently and pesticides such as S-metolachlor, cypermethrin, monocrotophos, and terbuphos, known to be used in the CGA, were not detected in any of the samples. Because of dilution by higher than normal rainfall in the study period, these concentrations may not be predictive of those in years of normal rainfall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Atrazine
  • Corn production
  • Surface water
  • Terbuthylazine


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