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J Environ Monit. 2012 Apr;14(4):1182-9. doi: 10.1039/c2em10993j. Epub 2012 Feb 27.

Evaluation of soil contamination in intensive agricultural areas by pesticides and organic pollutants: south-eastern Spain as a case study.

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Department of Hydrogeology and Analytical Chemistry, Andalusian Center for the Assessment and Monitoring of Global Change, CAESCG, Agrifood Campus of International Excellence, ceiA3, University of Almería, Carretera de Sacramento s/n, E-04120 Almería, Spain.


A comprehensive survey of the occurrence and fate of pesticides and organic contaminants in soils from an intensive agricultural area devoted to horticultural production in plastic-based greenhouses has been performed to determine if the operation under integrated pest management practices has contributed to reduce the levels of these compounds. Almería province (south-eastern Spain) was selected for the case study. 38 agricultural soil samples (each sample corresponds to an independent private greenhouse) of areas working under integrated pest management (IPM) programs have been analyzed in order to evaluate their contamination fate. Sampling was designed to cover an area of about 400 km(2). Pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phenolic compounds and di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) were monitored. The obtained results were compared to other studies reported in Spain and Europe. Among relevant persistent pesticides, DDTs and endosulfans were mainly found and the results indicated historical application, although recent application of endosulfan was rarely detected. PAHs were also found but to a lesser extent and derived from pyrogenic sources. DEHP levels were considerably higher in comparison to the other monitored analytes. The evaluation revealed that despite the use of IPM programs, pesticide and organic contaminants are still being detected in this type of agricultural soil, although at relatively low concentration levels. In general, the contamination rate was similar or lower in comparison to other agricultural areas from nearby regions or countries. However, further monitoring studies should be carried out to establish the possible reduction in contamination by the selected compounds.

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