The occurrence and temporal distribution of more than 80 pesticides and pesticide metabolites were determined in five rivers of the Mississippi Embayment National Water-Quality Assessment study unit from February 1996 through January 1998. More than 230 samples were collected and analyzed during the 2-year study. The five rivers sampled included three rivers with small, primarily agricultural watersheds; one river with a small urban watershed in Memphis, Tennessee; and one large river with mixed land use (row-crop agriculture, pasture, forest, and urban). Pesticides, usually herbicides, were frequently detected in water samples from every river. Insecticides were frequently detected (chlorpyrifos and diazinon in all samples) only in the river that drains the urban watershed. The occurrence of pesticides in surface water varied among the agricultural watersheds as well as between the agricultural and urban watersheds. The pesticides detected in the rivers that drain the agricultural watersheds were related to the major crop types cultivated in the watershed?corn is mostly grown in the northern part of the study unit, whereas cotton and rice are mostly grown in the southern part. The occurrence of pesticides in the Yazoo River, which drains the mixed land-use watershed, was similar to pesticide occurrence in the rivers that drain smaller agricultural watersheds, although concentrations were lower in the Yazoo River. Likewise, simazine, which was detected in all urban stream samples, was also detected in all Yazoo River samples, but in lower concentrations. The aquatic-life criteria for diazinon and chlorpyrifos was exceeded in 24 of 25 and 12 of 25 urban river samples, respectively, but only once or twice in agricultural and mixed-use watershed samples. Atrazine exceeded the aquatic-life criterion in about 20 percent of the samples from each river, particularly in the spring following pesticide application.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Occurrence of pesticides in five rivers of the Mississippi Embayment Study Unit, 1996-98
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
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