A study of available data for the period from 1972 to 1990 was conducted to characterize the occurrence and distribution of pesticides in sur-face water, bottom material, ground water, and fish tissue in the Potomac River Basin. The study was conducted by the Potomac River study unit of the U.S. Geological Survey?s National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. Exist-ing data coverage was evaluated to guide future data-collection activities. Data from computer data bases and from published and unpublished reports were obtained from local, State, and Fed-eral agencies in the four Potomac River Basin states and the District of Columbia. Data are available for all environmental media, but geo-graphic and temporal coverage are limited. Clusters of data occur in the north-central parts of the basin, with numerous samples at discrete loca-tions in the Shenandoah and Monocacy River Basins, along the mainstem Potomac River, in the Washington, D.C., area, and in streams along the Potomac Estuary. Much of the available surface-water and bottom-material data are from the ear-lier years of the period of interest, the ground-water data are from the middle years, and the fish-tissue data are distributed over much of the period. Overall, temporal coverage is not sufficient for analysis of trends. Comparisons between different sample media are possible in some areas of the Potomac River Basin, particularly in the northern end of the Great Valley. Residual concentrations of some pesticides have been found in surface water, bottom mate-rial, ground water, and fish tissue. Samples have been analyzed for a total of at least 69 pesticides and related compounds in surface water, bottom material, ground water, and fish tissue. Most con-centrations of the pesticides analyzed during the period from 1972 to 1990 were less than or equal to reporting limits. For surface-water samples, 13 out of 41 pes-ticides and related compounds analyzed had concentrations equal to or greater than the report-ing limits. Compounds reported in surface water included 2,4-D, atrazine, aldrin, chlordane, DDT and related compounds, dieldrin, endrin, lindane, prometone, prometryne, and simazine. For bottom material samples, 19 of 31 pesticides and related compounds analyzed had concentrations equal to or greater than the reporting limits. Compounds reported in bottom material included aldrin, chlor-dane, DDT and related compounds, diazinon, dieldrin, endosulfan, endrin, ethion, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, lindane, parathion, and tox-aphene. In ground-water samples, 14 of 39 pesticides and related compounds analyzed had concentrations equal to or greater than the report-ing limits. Compounds reported in ground water included 2,4-D, atrazine, chlordane, cyanazine, DDT and related compounds, diazinon, dieldrin, endosulfan, endrin, heptachlor epoxide, malathion, methyl parathion, simazine. For fish- tissue sam-ples, 30 of the 37 pesticides and related compounds analyzed had concentrations equal to or greater than the reporting limits. Compounds reported included aldrin, chlorpyrifos, dacthal, dieldrin, endrin, HCB, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, methoxychlor, mirex, PCA, toxaphene, and those compounds related to chlordane, DDT, and lindane.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Water-quality assessment of the Potomac River Basin: analysis of available pesticide data, 1972-1990
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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