Occurrence and behaviour of organophosphorus insecticides in the River Wuchuan, southeast China

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Journal Article
Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 2002, 4 (4), pp. 498 - 504
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Organophosphorus (OP) insecticides are used worldwide, yet their persistence in the environment is not well understood. This paper summarises recent research on 17 OP insecticides in the River Wuchuan, an important catchment in China, by determining their concentrations in water, soil, sediment and plants by gas chromatography with flame photometric detection (GC-FPD). The concentrations of the total OP insecticides ranged from 92.77 to 229 ng 1-1in river water, 1.61 to 9.93 ng g-1dry weight in soil, 1.24 to 7.56 ng g-1dry weight in sediment and 75.28 to 326 ng g-1dry weight in plants. There was a relatively high abundance of methamidophos, dichlorvos, malathion, omethoate and dimethoate in all water, soil, sediment and plant samples. On average, these five compounds collectively accounted for 64%, 71%, 71% and 54% of the total OP insecticide concentration in water, soil, sediment and plants, respectively, which was similar to the composition of OP insecticides in application formulations used in our study area and in China as a whole. The results therefore reflect the application pattern to some extent, and suggest that the sources of the OP insecticides are mainly from current usage. When compared with other areas, the levels of OP insecticides in the River Wuchuan were moderate. The animal and human risks from exposure to OP insecticides in water and plants were evaluated against relevant threshold values. The results therefore provide important information on the current contamination status of a key agricultural watershed in China, and point to the need for urgent action to control the use of some excessively applied and potentially persistent agrochemicals, such as methamidophos, omethoate and dimethoate.
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