Widespread pesticide distribution in the European atmosphere questions their degradability in air

Ludovic Mayer, Céline Degrendele, Petr Šenk, Jiři Kohoutek, Petra Přibylová, Petr Kukučka, Lisa Melymuk, Amandine Durand, Sylvain Ravier, Andres Alastuey, Alex R. Baker, Urs Baltensperger, Kathrin Baumann-Stanzer, Tobias Biermann, Pernilla Bohlin-Nizzetto, Darius Ceburnis, Sébastien Conil, Cédric Couret, Anna Degórska, Evangelia DiapouliSabine Eckhardt, Konstantinos Eleftheriadis, Grant L. Forster, Korbinian Freier, François Gheusi, Maria I. Gini, Heidi Hellén, Stephan Henne, Hartmut Herrmann, Adéla Holubová Šmejkalová, Urmas Hõrrak, Christoph Hüglin, Heikki Junninen, Adam Kristensson, Laurent Langrene, Janne Levula, Marie Lothon, Elke Ludewig, Ulla Makkonen, Jana Matejovičová, Nikolaos Mihalopoulos, Veronika Mináriková, Wolfgang Moche, Steffen M. Noe, Noemí Pérez, Tuukka Petäjä, Véronique Pont, Laurent Poulain, Etienne Quivet, Gabriela Ratz, Till Rehm, Stefan Reimann, Ivan Simmons, Jeroen E. Sonke, Mar Sorribas, Ronald Spoor, Daan P.J. Swart, Vasiliki Vasilatou, Henri Wortham, Margarita Yela, Pavlos Zarmpas, Claudia Zellweger Fäsi, Kjetil Tørseth, Paolo Laj, Jana Klánová, Gerhard Lammel

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Abstract

Risk assessment of pesticide impacts on remote ecosystems makes use of model-estimated degradation in air. Recent studies suggest these degradation rates to be overestimated, questioning current pesticide regulation. Here, we investigated the concentrations of 76 pesticides in Europe at 29 rural, coastal, mountain, and polar sites during the agricultural application season. Overall, 58 pesticides were observed in the European atmosphere. Low spatial variation of 7 pesticides suggests continental-scale atmospheric dispersal. Based on concentrations in free tropospheric air and at Arctic sites, 22 pesticides were identified to be prone to long-range atmospheric transport, which included 15 substances approved for agricultural use in Europe and 7 banned ones. Comparison between concentrations at remote sites and those found at pesticide source areas suggests long atmospheric lifetimes of atrazine, cyprodinil, spiroxamine, tebuconazole, terbuthylazine, and thiacloprid. In general, our findings suggest that atmospheric transport and persistence of pesticides have been underestimated and that their risk assessment needs to be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3342-3352
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Volume58
Issue number7
Early online date7 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • atmosphere
  • degradation
  • pesticides
  • risk assessment
  • transport

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