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Sci Total Environ. 2016 Jun 15;556:63-9. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.165. Epub 2016 Mar 10.

Conversion of pesticides to biologically active products on urban hard surfaces.

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Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA; California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Sacramento, CA 95812, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


Impervious pavements such as concrete are a dominant feature of urban landscapes, but their role in the fate of environmental contaminants is largely ignored. This study considered the case of urban-use pesticides, and demonstrated for the first time that surfaces such as concrete were capable of converting pesticides to other biologically active intermediates. Rapid transformation of pesticides was observed in both bench and field scale setups. Under outdoor conditions, permethrin, a heavily used pyrethroid insecticide, quickly formed 3-phenoxybenzoic acid (3-PBA) that is a known endocrine disruptor, and the level of 3-PBA was >100μg/L in the runoff water even 3months after the treatment. Fipronil, a product used for termite and ant control, was quickly transformed to desulfinyl and sulfone derivatives, with the desulfinyl level exceeding that of parent in the runoff water only 1week after treatment. Fipronil derivatives have aquatic toxicity similar or even greater than the parent fipronil. Direct sampling of deposited particles from residential exterior pavements revealed widespread presence of fipronil sulfone and desulfinyl and demonstrated their in-situ formation and accumulation on concrete. The extensive transformations were likely caused by the alkalinity and metal oxides in concrete and conducive photolytic conditions at the hard surfaces. The study findings highlight the role of urban pavements and urbanization in the geochemical cycling of anthropogenic contaminants.


Biologically active derivative; Fipronil; Permethrin; Pesticide; Urban hard surface

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