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Chemosphere. 1999 Feb;38(4):875-89.

A field study to compare performance of stainless steel research monitoring wells with existing on-farm drinking water wells in measuring pesticide and nitrate concentrations.

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  • 1Ecosystems Research Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency, Athens, GA 30605-2700, USA.


Existing drinking water wells are widely used for the collection of ground water samples to evaluate chemical contamination. A well comparison study was conducted to compare pesticide and nitrate-N data from specially designed stainless steel research monitoring wells with data from nearby existing on-farm drinking water wells. Results could help to determine whether adequate information concerning ground water contamination can be obtained from existing drinking water wells for use in making pollutant control decisions. The study was conducted during 1993-1994 in the Little Coharie Watershed, a 158 square mile area located in the coastal plain of eastern North Carolina. Statistical analysis indicated that research monitoring wells provided a greater probability of detecting pesticides in ground water than existing on-farm wells. Atrazine was the most frequently detected pesticide found in all wells, followed in order by fluometuron, carbofuran, metolachlor, alachlor, carbaryl, butylate, chlorothalonil, linuron and simazine. Ninety-seven percent of all wells had observed concentrations of nitrate-N, ranging from 0.1 to 30.1 mg/L. There was not a significant difference between research wells and existing wells for monitoring nitrate-N. Based on results of this study, existing drinking water wells can be used for monitoring nitrate; however, specialized stainless steel monitoring wells should be used for monitoring pesticides in ground water.

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