Water and suspended-sediment samples were collected at eight sites on the Alamo and New Rivers in the Imperial Valley/Salton Sea Basin of California and analyzed for both current-use and organochlorine pesticides by the U.S. Geological Survey. Samples were collected in the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007, corresponding to the seasons of greatest pesticide use in the basin. Large-volume water samples (up to 650 liters) were collected at each site and processed using a flow-through centrifuge to isolate suspended sediments. One-liter water samples were collected from the effluent of the centrifuge for the analysis of dissolved pesticides. Additional samples were collected for analysis of dissolved organic carbon and for suspended-sediment concentrations.
Water samples were analyzed for a suite of 61 current-use and organochlorine pesticides using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. A total of 25 pesticides were detected in the water samples, with seven pesticides detected in more than half of the samples. Dissolved concentrations of pesticides observed in this study ranged from below their respective method detection limits to 8,940 nanograms per liter (EPTC). The most frequently detected compounds in the water samples were chlorpyrifos, DCPA, EPTC, and trifluralin, which were observed in more than 75 percent of the samples. The maximum concentrations of most pesticides were detected in samples from the Alamo River. Maximum dissolved concentrations of carbofuran, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion exceeded aquatic life benchmarks established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for these pesticides.
Suspended sediments were analyzed for 87 current-use and organochlorine pesticides using microwave-assisted extraction, gel permeation chromatography for sulfur removal, and either carbon/alumina stacked solid-phase extraction cartridges or deactivated Florisil for removal of matrix interferences. Twenty current-use pesticides were detected in the suspended-sediment samples, including pyrethroid insecticides and fungicides. Fourteen legacy organochlorine pesticides also were detected in the suspended-sediment samples. Greater numbers of current-use and organochlorine pesticides were observed in the Alamo River samples in comparison with the New River samples. Maximum concentrations of current-use pesticides in suspended-sediment samples ranged from below their method detection limits to 174 micrograms per kilogram (pendimethalin). Most organochlorine pesticides were detected at or below their method detection limits, with the exception of p,p'-DDE, which had a maximum concentration of 54.2 micrograms per kilogram. The most frequently detected current-use pesticides in the suspended-sediment samples were chlorpyrifos, permethrin, tetraconazole, and trifluralin, which were observed in more than 83 percent of the samples. The organochlorine degradates p,p'-DDD and p,p'-DDE were detected in all suspended-sediment samples.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Pesticides in Water and Suspended Sediment of the Alamo and New Rivers, Imperial Valley/Salton Sea Basin, California, 2006-2007