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Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2007 Apr;52(3):294-305. Epub 2007 Feb 5.

Current-use pesticides and organochlorine compounds in precipitation and lake sediment from two high-elevation national parks in the Western United States.

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Colorado Water Science Center, United States Geological Survey, MS 415, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225, USA.


Current-use pesticides (CUPs) and banned organochlorine compounds (OCCs) were measured in precipitation (snowpack and rain) and lake sediments from two national parks in the Western United States to determine their occurrence and distribution in high-elevation environments. CUPs frequently detected in snow were endosulfan, dacthal, and chlorothalonil in concentrations ranging from 0.07 to 2.4 ng/L. Of the OCCs, chlordane, hexachlorobenzene, and two polychlorinated biphenyl congeners were detected in only one snow sample each. Pesticides most frequently detected in rain were atrazine, carbaryl, and dacthal in concentrations from 3.0 to 95 ng/L. Estimated annual deposition rates in one of the parks were 8.4 microg/m2 for atrazine, 9.9 microg/m2 for carbaryl, and 2.6 microg/m2 for dacthal, of which >85% occurred during summer. p,p'-DDE and p,p'-DDD were the most frequently detected OCCs in surface sediments from lakes. However, concentrations were low (0.12 to 4.7 microg/kg) and below levels at which harmful effects for benthic organisms are likely to be observed. DDD and DDE concentrations in an age-dated sediment core suggest that atmospheric deposition of DDT and its degradates, and possibly other banned OCCs, to high-elevation areas have been decreasing since the 1970s. Dacthal and endosulfan sulfate were present in low concentrations (0.11 to 1.2 microg/kg) and were the only CUPs detected in surface sediments. Both pesticides were frequently detected in snow, confirming that some CUPs entering high-elevation aquatic environments through atmospheric deposition are accumulating in lake sediments and potentially in aquatic biota as well.

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