Even though the occurrence and behaviour of pesticides in the environment have been studied for decades, water-quality managers and the public still demand more complete and consistent information, and there are many unanswered questions for environmental scientists. In many respects, the greatest potential for unintended adverse effects of pesticides is through contamination of the hydrologic system, which supports aquatic life and related food chains and is used for recreation, drinking water, and many other purposes. The movement of water is one of the primary mechanisms by which pesticides are transported from targeted application areas to other parts of the environment; thus, there is potential for movement into and through all components of the hydrologic system. Extensive reviews of existing information on pesticides in the hydrologic system, including the atmosphere (Majewski and Capel, 1995), ground water (Barbash and Resek, 1996), surface water (Larson et al., 1997), and fluvial sediments and aquatic biota (Nowell et al., 1999), uncovered volumes of useful information, but also noted critical information gaps. For example: (a) relatively few pesticides have been thoroughly studied, particularly transformation products; (b) most data have been collected for small-scale site and field studies in agricultural areas; (c) urban areas have received little attention for monitoring or research; (d) the geographic and temporal distributions of data collection have been highly uneven; and (e) comparing and synthesizing results from most studies is difficult because of inconsistent approaches to data collection and chemical analysis.
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Pesticides in the hydrologic system - What do we know and what's next?