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Insecticides in streams were highest in urban areas

U.S. Geological Circular 1225--The Quality of Our Nation's Waters--Nutrients and Pesticides

Most urban streams sampled, plus two major rivers dominated by urban influences--the South Platte River downstream from Denver and the Trinity River downstream from Dallas-Fort Worth--had among the highest insecticide concentrations of all streams and rivers sampled. Nine of 11 urban streams and both rivers had concentrations that exceeded aquatic-life guidelines, usually in more than 20 percent of the samples. The most common insecticides to exceed guidelines were diazinon, chlorpyrifos, and malathion. Chlorpyrifos and malathion have USEPA aquatic-life criteria of 0.041 g/L and 0.100 g/L, respectively, and diazinon has a guideline of 0.080 g/L established by the International Joint Commission for the Great Lakes.

Insecticides in urban streams, largely from use around homes and in gardens, parks, and commercial areas, frequently occur at levels of concern for aquatic life and may be a significant obstacle for restoring urban streams.

Insecticides detected in water in Zollner Creek, Oregon, 1993 and 94.
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Most agricultural streams had moderate or low concentrations of insecticides but, as for herbicides, several streams that drain intensively farmed areas that are irrigated had among the highest insecticide levels. Although concentrations of insecticides in agricultural streams tended to be low compared to urban streams, concentrations above aquatic-life guidelines were common. For about one-half of the agricultural streams, samples exceeded a guideline for one or more insecticides. In addition to diazinon and chlorpyrifos, an insecticide that frequently exceeded its guideline in agricultural streams was methyl azinphos, which has a USEPA aquatic-life criterion of 0.010 g/L.

Insecticide concentrations in most major rivers usually were lower than those measured in urban streams and exceeded aquatic-life guidelines in relatively few samples. Exceptions are the San Joaquin River, which drains farmlands with some of the heaviest insecticide use in the Nation, and the South Platte and Trinity Rivers, which are affected by both point and nonpoint sources from urban areas.


A national ranking of insecticides in streams. Urban streams Rivers and streams with mixed land use

next arrow Organochlorine insecticides were highest in urban streams and where historical agricultural use was greatest
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