Transformation of the Herbicides MCPP and Atrazine under Natural Aquifer Conditions

Jeanette Agertved, Kirsten Ruegge, James Barker

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The potential for aerobic biotransformation of the herbicides MCPP[(+/-)-2-(4-chloro-2-methylphenoxy)propionic acid] and Atrazine [2-chloro-4-ethylamino-6-isopropylamino-s-triazine] under natural aquifer conditions was investigated. A natural gradient experiment was carried out in an aerobic ground-water zone at the Canadian Forces Base Borden, Borden, Ontario, Canada. Over 90 days, a continuous plume was created by weekly injections of the herbicides (average concentrations of 400 μg/1 each), together with a conservative tracer, chloride. The fate of the herbicides was monitored at multilevel piezometers located downgradient from the injection well. In parallel, experiments with in situ testers (Gillham et al., 1990) were set up in the aquifer and microcosms were set up in the laboratory. For MCPP, the natural gradient experiment showed an adaptation period of 42-56 days followed by transformation from 400 to 30 μg/1. As predicted, MCPP was not retarded compared to the conservative tracer. No transformation was observed in the in situ testers over 47 days. In the laboratory experiments no transformation was observed over 74 days. Atrazine was recalcitrant within the experimental period of 96 days in the natural gradient experiment. A retardation factor R = 1.2, within the predicted range, was found for Atrazine in the Borden aquifer. No transformation was observed either in the in situ testers or in the laboratory experiments after a period of 96 and 74 days, respectively. These results suggest that both MCPP and Atrazine are mobile in sand aquifers. Atrazine appears persistent, at least for 96 days, while MCPP undergoes considerable transformation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGround Water
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)500-506
Publication statusPublished - 1992

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