The Science of the total environment

Environmental hazards of pesticides from pineapple crop production in the Río Jiménez watershed (Caribbean Coast, Costa Rica).

PMID 23040047


This study aimed to characterize environmental hazards of pesticides from pineapple production in riparian communities along the Jiménez River watershed. To achieve our objectives riparian ecological quality indices on riparian habitat and macroinvertebrate assemblages were combined with toxicity assays, fish biomarkers, physico-chemical water analysis and pesticide environmental hazards. During two consecutive years and two periods (July and October), three reference and four impacted sites were monitored. The ecological quality of benthic macroinvertebrates and of riparian habitats deteriorated from the reference sites downstream to the polluted reaches along the Jiménez River area affected by pineapple plantations. The toxicity of water to Daphnia magna also increased towards downstream reaches. Biomarkers of fish of the species Poecilia gillii and Bryconamericus scleroparius transplanted across the studied sites evidenced a clear anticholinergic effect towards downstream sites as well as increased levels of lipid peroxidation. Different pesticide residues were frequently detected in water samples collected across the Jiménez River watershed with herbicides (ametryn, bromacil, diuron), organophosphorus insecticides (diazinon and ethoprophos) and triazole fungicides being the greatest reaching levels above 1 μg L(-1) in downstream sites. Principal component and environmental hazard analysis of physico-chemical and biological responses established clear relationships among habitat deterioration and the ecological quality of macroinvertebrate communities, high levels of herbicides and poor plant growth, high levels of organophosphorus insecticides in water and anticholinesterase effects on fish, D. magna mortality and deterioration of macroinvertebrate communities. Fungicide and herbicide residue levels were also related with high levels of lipid peroxidation and high activities of glutathione S transferase in fish liver, respectively. These results indicated, thus, that riparian habitat deterioration due to deforestation and land use for agriculture and pesticide contamination are affecting river ecosystems.