Daily News Archive
Pesticides Found in California Rainfall Samples
(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2003) The U. S. Geological
Survey (USGS) released a report on August 19, on their finding of the
pesticides diazinon and chlorpyrifos in all rainfall samples collected
in the Modesto, California area during January and February 2001 storms.
The report, "Diazinon and Chlorpyrifos Loads in Precipitation and
Urban and Agricultural Storm Runoff during January and February 2001
in the San Joaquin River Basin, California," found concentrations
of these two insecticides in the rainfall samples exceeding proposed
state guidelines for the protection of aquatic life in most samples,
by up to a factor of 10 for diazinon, and up to a factor of 7.4 for
"Many pesticides become airborne during the application process
and can drift off-site," said Michael Majewski, a USGS scientist
and expert in atmospheric deposition who contributed to the study. "After
they are applied, many pesticides volatilize into the lower atmosphere,
a process that can continue for days, weeks, or months after the application,
depending on the compound. In addition, pesticides can become airborne
attached to wind-blown dust."
Rainfall samples collected during the dormant spray season in Modesto
and the surrounding agricultural areas exceeded the state guidelines
by an average factor of 5.7 for diazinon and 3.1 for chlorpyrifos. Simultaneously,
storm runoff samples were collected from an urban storm drain where
diazinon concentration exceeded the proposed state aquatic life guidelines
by an average factor of 9.5. Sixty-eight percent of the diazinon concentration
found in the storm drain runoff could be accounted for by the concentration
in the rainfall.
Additionally, samples were collected from the San Joaquin, Merced, Stanislaus,
and Tuolumne rivers, and Orestimba Creek during this study. Sixty out
of a total of 240 of these samples exceeded the proposed state guideline
for diazinon and 18 for chlorpyrifos. The highest concentrations of
diazinon occurred in the San Joaquin River where concentrations exceeded
the state guidelines by as much as 3.6 times. The highest chlorpyrifos
concentrations occurred at Orestimba Creek where samples exceeded the
state guidelines by a factor of 3.4.
"It is important to recognize that the application of these pesticides
affect all parts of the hydrologic cycle," said the report's lead
author, USGS scientist Celia Zamora. "It is during rainfall events
that these pesticides get washed out of the atmosphere and produce run-off
at surprisingly high levels that exceed the guidelines for protection
of aquatic life."
The study will continue through 2004 at six sites in the San Joaquin
River Basin and two additional sites in the Sacramento River Basin.
The complete results of the study will be forthcoming. This study was
funded by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to provide
additional information to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality
Control Board for their development of Total Maximum Daily Load regulation
for diazinon and chlorpyrifos in the San Joaquin Basin.
The USGS report can be found at http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/wri/wri034091.
For more information, contact Dale Cox, USGS, 916-997-4209.
For more information
about chlorpyrifos, diazinon or other toxic pesticides, see Beyond Pesticides'