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J Environ Qual. 2003 Sep-Oct;32(5):1623-33.

Predicting and measuring environmental concentration of pesticides in air after soil application.

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Istituto di Chimica Agraria ed Ambientale-Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Via Emilia Parmense 84, 29100 Piacenza, Italy.


Pesticides can volatilize into the atmosphere, which affects the air quality. The ability to predict pesticide volatilization is an essential tool for human risk and environmental assessment. Even though there are several mathematical models to assess and predict the fate of pesticides in different compartments of the environment, there is no reliable model to predict volatilization. The objectives of this study were to evaluate pesticide volatilization under agricultural conditions using malathion [ O,O-dimethyl-S-(1,2-dicarbethoxyethyl)-dithiophosphate], ethoprophos (O-ethyl S,S-dipropylphosphorodithioate), and procymidone [N-(3,5-dichlorophenyl)-1,2-dimethylcyclopropane-1,2-dicarboximide] as test compounds and to evaluate the ability of the Pesticide Leaching Model (PELMO) to calculate the predicted environmental concentrations of pesticides in air under field conditions. The volatilization rate of procymidone, malathion, and ethoprophos was determined in a field study during two different periods (December 1998 and September 1999) using the Theoretical Profile Shape (TPS) method. The experiments were performed on bare silty soil in the Bologna province, Italy. Residues in the air were continuously monitored for 2 to 3 wk after the pesticide applications. The amount of pesticide volatilized was 16, 5, and 11% in December 1998 and 41, 23, and 19% in September 1999 for procymidone, malathion, and ethoprophos, respectively. In both these experiments, the PELMO simulations of the concentration of ethoprophos and procymidone were in good agreement with the measured data (factor +/- 1.1 on average). The volatilization of malathion was underestimated by a factor of 30 on average. These results suggest that volatilization described by PELMO may be reliable for volatile substances, but PELMO may underpredict volatilization for less-volatile substances.

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