Background: Metolachlor [(RS)-2-Chloro-N-(2-ethyl-6-methyl-phenyl)-N-(1-methoxypropan-2-yl)acetamide] and two degradates (metolachlor ethane-sulfonic acid and metolachlor oxanilic acid) are commonly observed in surface and groundwater. The behavior and fate of these compounds were examined over a 12-year period in seven agricultural watersheds in the United States. They were quantified in air, rain, streams, overland flow, groundwater, soil water, subsurface drain water, and water at the stream/groundwater interface. The compounds were frequently detected in surface and groundwater associated with agricultural areas. A mass budget approach, based on all available data from the study and literature, was used to determine a percentage-wise generalized distribution and fate of applied parent metolachlor in typical agricultural environments.
Results: In these watersheds, about 90% of applied metolachlor was taken up by plants or degraded, 10% volatilized, and 0.3% returned as rainfall. One percent was transported to surface water, while an equal amount infiltrated into the unsaturated zone soil water. < 0.02% reached the groundwater. Subsurface flow paths resulted in greater degradation of metolachlor because degradation reactions had more time to proceed.
Conclusions: An understanding of the residence times of water in the different environmental compartments, and the important processes affecting metolachlor as it is transported along flowpaths among the environmental compartments allows for a degree of predictability of metolachlor's fate. Degradates with long half-lives can be used (in a limited capacity) as tracers of metolachlor, because of their persistence and widespread occurrence in the environment.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Holistic assessment of occurrence and fate of metolachlor within environmental compartments of agricultural watersheds|
|Series title||Science of the Total Environment|
|Contributing office(s)||Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center|