USGS

 

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4051


Water-Quality Assessment of the Potomac River Basin: Analysis Of Available Pesticide Data, 1972-1990

By Humbert Zappia and Gary T. Fisher

 

This report is available as a pdf.

 

ABSTRACT

A study of available data for the period from 1972 to 1990 was conducted to characterize the occurrence and distribution of pesticides in surface water, bottom material, ground water, and fish tissue in the Potomac River Basin. The study was conducted by the Potomac River study unit of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. Existing data coverage was evaluated to guide future data-collection activities. Data from computer data bases and from published and unpublished reports were obtained from local, State, and Federal agencies in the four Potomac River Basin states and the District of Columbia. Data are available for all environmental media, but geographic and temporal coverage are limited. Clusters of data occur in the north-central parts of the basin, with numerous samples at discrete locations in the Shenandoah and Monocacy River Basins, along the mainstem Potomac River, in the Washington, D.C., area, and in streams along the Potomac Estuary. Much of the available surface-water and bottom-material data are from the earlier years of the period of interest, the ground-water data are from the middle years, and the fish-tissue data are distributed over much of the period. Overall, temporal coverage is not sufficient for analysis of trends. Comparisons between different sample media are possible in some areas of the Potomac River Basin, particularly in the northern end of the Great Valley.

Residual concentrations of some pesticides have been found in surface water, bottom material, ground water, and fish tissue. Samples have been analyzed for a total of at least 69 pesticides and related compounds in surface water, bottom material, ground water, and fish tissue. Most concentrations of the pesticides analyzed during the period from 1972 to 1990 were less than or equal to reporting limits.

For surface-water samples, 13 out of 41 pesticides and related compounds analyzed had concentrations equal to or greater than the reporting limits. Compounds reported in surface water included 2,4-D, atrazine, aldrin, chlordane, DDT and related compounds, dieldrin, endrin, lindane, prometone, prometryne, and simazine. For bottom material samples, 19 of 31 pesticides and related compounds analyzed had concentrations equal to or greater than the reporting limits. Compounds reported in bottom material included aldrin, chlordane, DDT and related compounds, diazinon, dieldrin, endosulfan, endrin, ethion, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, lindane, parathion, and toxaphene. In ground-water samples, 14 of 39 pesticides and related compounds analyzed had concentrations equal to or greater than the reporting limits. Compounds reported in ground water included 2,4-D, atrazine, chlordane, cyanazine, DDT and related compounds, diazinon, dieldrin, endosulfan, endrin, heptachlor epoxide, malathion, methyl parathion, simazine. For fish-tissue samples, 30 of the 37 pesticides and related compounds analyzed had concentrations equal to or greater than the reporting limits. Compounds reported included aldrin, chlorpyrifos, dacthal, dieldrin, endrin, HCB, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, methoxychlor, mirex, PCA, toxaphene, and those compounds related to chlordane, DDT, and lindane.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and scope

Description of the Potomac River Basin

Acknowledgments

Analysis of available pesticide data in the Potomac River Basin

Pesticide use in the Potomac River Basin

Availability of pesticide data

Surface water and bottom material

Ground water

Biological tissue

Occurrence and distribution of selected pesticides

Surface water and bottom material

Ground water

Fish tissue

Whole fish

Fish fillets

Evaluation of existing pesticide data coverage

Surface water and bottom material

Ground water

Fish tissue

Multimedia data evaluation

Summary and conclusions

References

Appendix

A. Selected standards and criteria for pesticides in water,

bottom material, and fish tissue


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For more information about USGS activities in Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia contact:

 

Director
MD-DE-DC Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
8987 Yellow Brick Road
Baltimore, MD 21237
Telephone: (410) 238-4200
Fax: (410) 238-4210

 

or access the USGS Water Resources of Maryland, Delaware, and District of Columbia home page at: http://md.water.usgs.gov/.



U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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