Herbicide concentrations in streams of the U.S. Midwest have been shown to decrease through the growing season due to a variety of chemical and physical factors. The occurrence of herbicide degradation products at the end of the growing season is not well known. This study was conducted to document the occurrence of commonly used herbicides and their degradation products in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota streams during base-flow conditions in August 1997. Atrazine, the most frequently detected herbicide (94%), was present at relatively low concentrations (median 0.17 ??g L-1). Metolachlor was detected in 59% and cyanazine in 37% of the samples. Seven of nine compounds detected in more than 50% of the samples were degradation products. The total concentration of the degradation products (median of 4.4 ??g L-1) was significantly greater than the total concentration of parent compounds (median of 0.26 ??g L-1). Atrazine compounds were present less frequently and in significantly smaller concentrations in streams draining watersheds with soils developed on less permeable tills than in watersheds with soils developed on more permeable loess. The detection and concentration of triazine compounds was negatively correlated with antecedent rainfall (April-July). In contrast, acetanalide compounds were positively correlated with antecedant rainfall in late spring and early summer that may transport the acetanalide degradates into ground water and subsequently into nearby streams. The distribution of atrazine degradation products suggests regional differences in atrazine degradation processes.
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Herbicides and herbicide degradation products in upper midwest agricultural streams during august base-flow conditions