Communications in agricultural and applied biological sciences

Investigations into the source of two fungicides measured in the air for 24 hours following application to a cereal crop.

PMID 20218509


Airborne pesticides can be detected near to recently-treated arable fields for a period of days following the application. Identifying the source of such pesticides is important in developing predictive models for use in exposure and risk assessments. Previous work showed levels of pesticide in the air that were higher than expected for a low-vapour-pressure active ingredient, epoxiconazole, and comparable with an active ingredient of a significantly higher vapour pressure, fenpropidin. It was possible that the measured concentrations could be attributed to 'dust' particles emitted from the crop, either biological material contaminated with pesticide or solid dried deposits of active ingredient and other formulation components. A second experiment was therefore undertaken to measure airborne concentrations of the same active ingredients and to determine whether some or all of the measured airborne pesticide could be attributed to particles, using a Marple personal cascade impactor, which collects particles in the range 0.3 - 50 microm. Such samplers are not optimised to give good sampling efficiencies under the proposed field conditions, so some initial tests were undertaken in the Silsoe wind tunnel to assess its ability to sample particles in an air flow. In the subsequent field trial, a 192 m square plot in a commercially established winter cereal crop was sprayed with a tank mix of commercial formulations of epoxiconazole and fenpropidin. Measurements of airborne pesticides were made for 24 hours following the application with suction samplers attached to tenax tubes to evaluate vapour concentrations and with the cascade impactor to determine whether contaminated airborne particles were present. The concentrations of pesticide measured with the tenax tubes were significantly higher than the particulate component detected on the cascade impactor plates and it is therefore it was very unlikely that there was a significant contribution from pesticide-laden particles to the airborne concentration. Although it is clear that under these particular experimental conditions, airborne contaminated particles were not detected in significant quantities after the application, it is possible that this could occur under different circumstances, such as during pollen release or harvest.

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