Measured concentrations of herbicides and model predictions of atrazine fate in the Patuxent River estuary.J Environ Qual. 2004 Mar-Apr; 33(2):594-604.JE
The environmental fate of herbicides in estuaries is poorly understood. Estuarine physical transport processes and the episodic nature of herbicide release into surface waters complicate interpretation of water concentration measurements and allocation of sources. Water concentrations of herbicides and two triazine degradation products (CIAT [6-amino-2-chloro-4-isopropylamino-s-triazine] and CEAT [6-amino-2-chloro-4-ethylamino-s-triazine]) were measured in surface water from four sites on 40 d from 4 Apr. through 29 July 19% in the Patuxent River estuary, part of the Chesapeake Bay system. Atrazine (2-chloro-4-ethylamino-6-isopropylamino-1,3,5-triazine) was most persistent and present in the highest concentrations (maximum = 1.29 microg/L). Metolachlor [2-chloro-6'-ethyl-N-(2-methoxy-1-methylethyl)-o-acetoluidide], CIAT, CEAT, and simazine (1-chloro-3,5-bisethylamino-2,4,6-triazine) were frequently detected with maximum concentration values of 0.61, 1.1, 0.76, and 0.49 microg/L, respectively. A physical transport model was used to interpret atrazine concentrations in the context of estuarine water transport, giving estimates of in situ degradation rates and total transport. The estimated half-life of atrazine in the turbid, shallow upper estuary was t(1/2) = 20 d, but was much longer (t(1/2) = 100 d) in the deeper lower estuary. Although most (93%) atrazine entered the estuary upstream via the river, simulations suggested additional inputs directly to the lower estuary. The total atrazine load to the estuary from 5 April to 15 July was 71 kg with 48% loss by degradation and 31% exported to the Chesapeake Bay. Atrazine persistence in the estuary is directly related to river flows into the estuary. Low flows will increase atrazine residence time in the upper estuary and increase degradation losses.