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Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2012 Nov;63(4):471-83. doi: 10.1007/s00244-012-9789-9. Epub 2012 Aug 19.

Pesticide application and detection in variable agricultural intensity watersheds and their river systems in the maritime region of Canada.

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Potato Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Fredericton, NB, Canada.


Applications of pesticides in areas of agricultural production have been an environmental concern for the past several decades. Varying-sized watersheds draining regions of intense agriculture in the Maritime Provinces of Canada were monitored between 2003 and 2007 to determine the major in-use pesticides and to gain an understanding of the risks posed to aquatic ecosystems. A questionnaire collected from farmers in one watershed intensively cropped with potato indicated that 43 pesticides were applied with 18 of them being detected in that watershed. Our results across the Maritime region suggested that detection frequencies ranged from 0.0 to 22 % during the study period. Chlorothalonil, linuron, metalaxyl, and metribuzin were detected in 17-22 % of samples collected during rainfall events every year. Other pesticides, such as azinphos-methyl, atrazine, cypermethrin, permethrin, fonofos, and β-endosulfan were detected in ≤17 % of the samples during some years of the study. Concentrations of several pesticides were found to exceed their Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) aquatic life water-quality guidelines in pulses after rain events. The highest proportion of detections exceeding a CCME guideline was for chlorothalonil at 12.9 %, β-endosulfan at 6.0 %, and linuron at 3.4 %. Despite indications that remedial measures offer protection to aquatic environments, spatial and temporal gaps in the data prevented a full evaluation. A dedicated long-term multiple-watershed monitoring program for this region of Canada is therefore recommended.

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