• agricultural chemicals;
  • Monte Carlo method;
  • pesticides;
  • risk assessment;
  • statistical analysis;
  • sampling design;
  • water sampling;
  • water quality

ABSTRACT: The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 requires that human exposure to pesticides through drinking water be considered when establishing pesticide tolerances in food. Several systematic and seasonally weighted systematic sampling strategies for estimating pesticide concentrations in surface water were evaluated through Monte Carlo simulation, using intensive datasets from four sites in northwestern Ohio. The number of samples for the strategies ranged from 4 to 120 per year. Sampling strategies with a minimal sampling frequency outside the growing season can be used for estimating time weighted mean and percentile concentrations of pesticides with little loss of accuracy and precision, compared to strategies with the same sampling frequency year round. Less frequent sampling strategies can be used at large sites. A sampling frequency of 10 times monthly during the pesticide runoff period at a 90 km2 basin and four times monthly at a 16,400 km2 basin provided estimates of the time weighted mean, 90th, 95th, and 99th percentile concentrations that fell within 50 percent of the true value virtually all of the time. By taking into account basin size and the periodic nature of pesticide runoff, costs of obtaining estimates of time weighted mean and percentile pesticide concentrations can be minimized.