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Keywords:

  • glyphosate;
  • water quality;
  • nonpoint source pollution;
  • herbicides;
  • runoff

ABSTRACT: The use of glyphosate has increased rapidly, and there is limited understanding of its environmental fate. The objective of this study was to document the occurrence of glyphosate and the transformation product aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in Midwestern streams and to compare their occurrence with that of more commonly measured herbicides such as acetochlor, atrazine, and metolachlor. Water samples were collected at sites on 51 streams in nine Midwestern states in 2002 during three runoff events: after the application of pre-emergence herbicides, after the application of post-emergence herbicides, and during harvest season. All samples were analyzed for glyphosate and 20 other herbicides using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry or high performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. The frequency of glyphosate and AMPA detection, range of concentrations in runoff samples, and ratios of AMPA to glyphosate concentrations did not vary throughout the growing season as substantially as for other herbicides like atrazine, probably because of different seasonal use patterns. Glyphosate was detected at or above 0.1 μg/1 in 35 percent of pre-emergence, 40 percent of post-emergence, and 31 percent of harvest season samples, with a maximum concentration of 8.7 μg/1. AMPA was detected at or above 0.1 μg/1 in 53 percent of pre-emergence, 83 percent of post-emergence, and 73 percent of harvest season samples, with a maximum concentration of 3.6 μg/1. Glyphosate was not detected at a concentration at or above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's maximum contamination level (MCL) of 700 μg/1 in any sample. Atrazine was detected at or above 0.1 μg/1 in 94 percent of pre-emergence, 96 percent of post-emergence, and 57 percent of harvest season samples, with a maximum concentration of 55 μg/1. Atrazine was detected at or above its MCL (3 μg/1) in 57 percent of pre-emergence and 33 percent of post-emergence samples.