Organic-compound samples, including pesticides and semi-volatiles, were collected from 1992-95 at 43 surface-water and 27 bed-sediment and biological-tissue sampling sites within the Ozark Plateaus National Water-Quality Assessment Program study unit. Most surface-water, bed-sediment, and biological-tissue sites have drainage basins predominantly in the Springfield and Salem Plateaus. At most surface-water sampling sites, one to three pesticide samples were collected in the spring and early summer of 1994 and 1995; two sites had additional samples collected either weekly, biweekly, or monthly from February 1994 through December 1994. At most bed-sediment and biological-tissue sampling sites, a single organic-compounds sample was collected.
Agricultural pesticide use was approximately 4.9 million pounds of active ingredients per year from 1987-91 in the study unit and was generally greatest in the Springfield and Salem Plateaus pasturelands and in the Osage Plains and Mississippi Alluvial Plain cropland areas. The most frequently applied pesticide in the study unit was 2,4-D. Atrazine was the second most frequently applied pesticide. Corn, pasture, rice, sorghum, and soybeans received approximately 85 percent of the pesticides applied within the study unit. The highest pesticide application rate occurred on these crops in the Mississippi Alluvial and Osage Plains. Pastureland was the crop type that received the greatest amount of pesticides in 53 of the 96 counties in the study unit.
The most commonly detected herbicide (63 samples) in surface water was atrazine. Five other pesticides--desethylatrazine, tebuthiuron, prometon, metolachlor, and simazine--were detected in 15 or more samples. The most commonly detected insecticide (13 samples) was p,p'-DDE. Two other insecticides, diazinon and cis-permethrin, were detected in seven or more samples. Pesticides were detected at 39 surface-water sites; samples collected at Yocum Creek near Oak Grove, Ark. had the most pesticide detections (13). Seventeen other sites had samples with six or more pesticide detections.
Analysis of pesticide data collected at surface-water sites indicates that the largest variety of different pesticides detected (18) was in small, agricultural drainage basins; the largest percentage of detections of a single pesticide (about 80) was in medium, agricultural basins. Pesticide concentrations were small, and in most cases, at or near the detection limit. Maximum concentrations ranged from 0.001 to 0.007 micrograms per liter (mg/L) at small, forest sites; 0.001 to 0.029 mg/L at medium, forest sites; 0.001 to 0.079 mg/L at small, agricultural sites; and 0.003 to 0.29 mg/L at medium, agricultural sites. Pesticides were detected significantly more often in medium, agricultural basins in the Springfield Plateau.
The most commonly detected (13 samples) organic compound in bed sediment, in concentrations noticeably above background levels, was 2,6-dimethylnaphthalene; the maximum concentration of 2,6-dimethylnaphthalene was 130 micrograms per kilogram. Seventeen or more compounds were detected in bed-sediment samples collected at three sites.
Four compounds were detected in biological-tissue samples: p,p'-DDT in Corbicula fluminea (Asiatic clam) tissue collected at the Osage River near St. Thomas, Mo. and cis-chlordane, trans-chlordane, and trans-nonachlor in C. fluminea tissue collected at the James River near Boaz, Mo.
Organic compounds collected at surface-water, bed-sediment, or biological-tissue sampling sites were not detected in concentrations that exceeded any health criteria or standards. Based on this information, organic compounds do not pose any widespread or persistent problems in the study unit.