The photodegradation of six crop protection products (CPPs) was studied in 16 natural waters collected from across the midwest of the United States under simulated sunlight to determine the significance of indirect photolysis. The rate of degradation of five of the CPPs was faster in irradiated natural waters than in buffer systems, with the effect particularly significant with the relatively photostable compounds propiconazole and prometryn. Degradation rates were correlated with the concentration of one or more photosensitizers, or ratios thereof, by means of a Pearson's correlation and linear regression analysis. It was found that the photodegradation of chlorotoluron, pinoxaden, propiconazole and prometryn were linked to the concentration of nitrate, pointing to a significant role of hydroxyl radical (.OH) as a reactive intermediate. Increased concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and bicarbonate relative to nitrate were found to decrease the rate of degradation of these compounds, consistent with a quenching role. Chlorothalonil appeared to be rapidly degraded by means of the carbonate radical (.CO), whereas the photodegradation of emamectin was particularly complex. Overall, indirect photolysis significantly enhanced the rate of CPP degradation and fate models based on these experiments appear to offer more realism than those that only take into account direct photolysis. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:575–581. © 2009 SETAC
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