Pesticide compounds were detected in all 50 water samples collected from streams in New Jersey and Long Island, New York, during June 9-18, 1997. Samples were analyzed for 47 compounds, of which 25 were detected. The number of pesticides detected at each site ranged from 1 to 14. The seven most frequently detected pesticides were atrazine (in 93 percent of samples), metolachlor (86 percent), prometon (84 percent), desethyl-atrazine (78 percent), simazine (78 percent), carbaryl (44 percent), and diazinon (44 percent). All pesticide concentrations were within both U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and State maximum contaminant levels (MCL?s) for drinking water and USEPA lifetime health advisory levels (HAL?s). Concentrations of dieldrin and methylazinphos at one or more sites, however, equaled or exceeded a Federal or State water-quality criterion for aquatic life. The pesticides detected in a stream were related to the land-use composition of the basin. Detection frequencies of 14 of the 25 pesticides detected were highest at agricultural sites; acetochlor, azinphos-methyl, carbofuran, and pebulate were detected only at agricultural sites. Seven compounds were detected most frequently at urban sites; trifluralin, dieldrin, napropamide, and benfluralin were detected only at urban sites. Four compounds were detected most frequently at sites draining areas of mixed land use. No pesticides were detected most frequently at sites draining forested areas. The median concentration and the detection frequency of a given pesticide always were highest in samples from sites in the same land-use category.The median concentrations of seven pesticides at the agricultural sites were at least twice as high as the median concentrations at sites in other land-use categories. The median concentrations of the seven compounds detected most frequently at urban sites were equal to or only slightly higher than the median concentrations at sites in other land-use categories. The median total-pesticide concentration was highest at agricultural sites (0.2 mg/L (micrograms per liter)) and lowest at forested sites (0.025 mg/L). Total-pesticide concentrations varied most at agricultural sites and least at forested sites. Total-pesticide concentration and number of pesticides detected at a site increased as the percentage of agricultural land in the basin increased and decreased as the percentage of undeveloped land increased. Only three of the seven most frequently detected compounds?atrazine, metolachlor, and carbaryl?are among the seven most heavily applied pesticides in New Jersey. This is because detection frequencies are the result of physical and chemical properties of the pesticide compounds as well as application rates. Water solubility and soil-adsorption coefficients appear to be the two physical properties of pesticides that most influence their presence in streams.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Pesticides in streams in New Jersey and Long Island, New York, and relation to land use
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey,