Pesticides, in minute quantities, may affect the regimen of streams, and because they may concentrate in sediments, aquatic organisms, and edible aquatic foods, their detection and their measurement in the parts-per-trillion range are considered essential.
In 1964 the U.S. Geological Survey at Menlo Park, Calif., began research on methods for monitoring pesticides in water. Two systems were selected--electron-capture gas chromatography and microcoulometric-titration gas chromatography. Studies on these systems are now in progress. This report provides current information on the development and application of an electron-capture gas chromatographic procedure. This method is a convenient and extremely sensitive procedure for the detection and measurement of organic pesticides having high electron affinities, notably the chlorinated organic pesticides. The electron-affinity detector is extremely sensitive to these substances but it is not as sensitive to many other compounds. By this method, the chlorinated organic pesticide may be determined on a sample of convenient size in concentrations as low as the parts-per-trillion range. To insure greater accuracy in the identifications, the pesticides reported were separated and identified by their retention times on two different types of gas chromatographic columns.