Little is known of the occurrence of pesticides in urban streams compared to streams draining agricultural areas. Water samples from eight urban streams from across the United States were analyzed for 75 pesticides and seven transformation products. For six of the eight urban streams, paired agricultural streams were used for comparisons. The herbicides detected most frequently in the urban streams were prometon, simazine, atrazine, tebuthiuron, and metolachlor, and the insecticides detected most frequently were diazinon, carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, and malathion. In contrast to similar-sized agricultural streams, total insecticide concentrations commonly exceeded total herbicide concentrations in these urban streams. In general, the temporal concentration patterns in the urban streams were consistent with the characteristics of the local growing season. The insecticides carbaryl and diazinon exceeded criteria for the protection of aquatic life in many of the urban streams in the spring and summer. When the country as a whole is considered, the estimated mass of herbicides contributed by urban areas to streams is dwarfed by the estimated contribution from agricultural areas, but for insecticides, contributions from urban and agricultural areas may be similar. The results of this study suggest that urban areas should not be overlooked when assessing sources and monitoring the occurrence of pesticides in surface waters.
Additional Publication Details
Comparison of pesticides in eight U.S. urban streams