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U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2006-1207


Results of Analyses of the Fungicide Chlorothalonil, Its Degradation Products, and Other Selected Pesticides at 22 Surface-Water Sites in Five Southern States, 2003-04

By Elisabeth A. Scribner, James L. Orlando, William A. Battaglin, Mark W. Sandstrom, Kathryn M. Kuivila, and Michael T. Meyer


In accordance with the mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, a pesticide study was conducted during 2003–04 to determine the occurrence of the fungicide chlorothalonil and its degradation products at 22 surface-water sites in five Southern States. Water-quality samples were collected during the peanut-growing season (June–September) in 2003. During the peanut-growing season in 2004, samples were collected after large storms.

An analytical method was developed at the USGS Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory in Lawrence, Kansas, to measure chlorothalonil and its degradation products by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS). Chlorothalonil was detected in 4 of the 113 surface-water samples. The primary degradation product of chlorothalonil, 4-hydroxy-chlorothalonil, was detected in 26 of the 113 samples with concentrations ranging from 0.002 to 0.930 microgram per liter. The chlorothalonil degradation products, 1-amide-4-hydroxy-chorothalonil and 1,3-diamide-chlorothalonil, were detected in one water sample each at 0.020 and 0.161 microgram per liter, respectively.

The USGS Methods and Research Development Group, Lakewood, Colorado, developed a custom method for chlorothalonil using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) in an effort to achieve a lower laboratory reporting level (LRL) than the USGS National Water-Quality Laboratory (NWQL) schedule 2060, which analyzes the compound chlorothalonil at a LRL of 0.035 µg/L. The group succeeded in achieving a lower GC/MS reporting level of 0.01 µg/L. Chlorothalonil was detected in 5 of 68 water samples analyzed using the custom GC/MS method, whereas chlorothalonil was detected in 2 of 21 water samples analyzed using NWQL schedule 2060.

In addition to analysis of chlorothalonil and its degradation products, samples were analyzed using the USGS NWQL schedules 2001 and 2060 for about 114 pesticides and their degradation products. Samples also were analyzed for dissolved organic carbon, suspended sediment, and percentage of silt- and clay-sized particles.

Overall, it was found that chlorothalonil was detected only infrequently and at relatively low concentrations. Chlorothalonil’s major degradation product, 4-hydroxy-chlorothalonil, was detected most frequently, occurred generally at higher concentrations in water samples than did the parent fungicide, and the data from this study reaffirmed that it is the dominant degradation product of chlorothalonil in the peanut-growing environment.


Scribner, E.A., Orlando, J.L., Battaglin, W.A., Sandstrom, M.W., Kuivila, K.M., and Meyer, M.T., 2006, Results of analyses of the fungicide chlorothalonil, its degradation products, and other selected pesticides at 22 surface-water sites in five Southern states, 2003-04: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1207, 59 p.

For more information about USGS studies by the Organic Geochemistry Laboratory:

Elisabeth Scribner
U.S. Geological Survey
Kansas Water Science Center
4821 Quail Crest Place
Lawrence, KS 66049-3839
Telephone: (785) 832-3545
Fax: (785) 832-3500

For more information about USGS water resources studies in Kansas, visit the USGS Kansas Water Science Center home page:

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