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Fate of atrazine in a grassed phytoremediation system



Atrazine is a well-known contaminant of surface waters and has been implicated in point-source pollution at agrochemical dealerships in the Midwest. Although the fate of atrazine has been well documented in soil and water, little is known about the fate of this contaminant and its metabolites within a grassed system. In the present study, [U-ring-14C]atrazine was added to soil in closed systems to determine the fate of the parent compound and its metabolites in soil, including degradation and movement into plants and air. Soil was treated with 25 mg/kg [14C]labeled atrazine and allowed to age for 5 d. Four systems then were amended with a mixture of prairie grasses, and the remaining four chambers were maintained as unvegetated controls. Dissipation and distribution of parent compound and metabolites were recorded for 21 d. Plant uptake of [14C]residue was less than 0.5% of applied radioactivity. Approximately 2% of total applied [14C]atrazine was mineralized to [14C]CO2, with no differences between vegetated and unvegetated systems. Mass balance recoveries were 76% for grassed systems and 77.5% for unvegetated controls. Approximately 40% of applied radioactivity remained bound to the soil following extraction. The most prevalent extractable compound detected in the soil was the parent, atrazine; major metabolites in soil were deethylatrazine (DEA) and didealkylatrazine (DDA). Leaf tissue contained concentrations of atrazine and key metabolites, i.e., DEA, DDA, and deisopropylatrazine (DIA), above those allowed in forage grasses by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; another key metabolite, hydroxyatrazine, was the most prevalent compound identified in both leaf and root tissue.