Airborne organophosphate pesticides drift in Mediterranean climate: The importance of secondary drift
Abstract Pesticide application is a short-term air-pollution episode with near and far field effects due to atmospheric drift. In order to better evaluate resulting air concentrations in nearby communities following pesticide application, measurements of airborne pesticides were conducted at ∼70 m from field edge. This was done following three different application events of the organophosphate pesticide Chlorpyrifos in a persimmon orchard. Complementary information on larger spatial scale was obtained using CALPUFF modeling in which application and meteorological data was used to better evaluate dispersion patterns. Measurements indicated high airborne concentrations during application hours (few μg m −3 for 8 h average), which dropped to tens of ng m −3 in the following days. Measured atmospheric concentrations show that secondary drift (i.e., post-application drift) involves significant loads of pesticides and hence should not be ignored in exposure considerations. Furthermore, CALPUFF modeling revealed the complex dispersion pattern when weak winds prevailed, and showed that during the 24 h after application air concentrations reached levels above the hourly Texas effect screening level (0.1 μg m −3 ). Interestingly, weak winds on the night after application resulted in a secondary peak in measured and modeled air concentrations. Long exposure time (when secondary drift is considered) and concentrations measured following such common air-assisted orchard application, suggest pesticide drift may have health repercussions that are currently unknown, and emphasize the need for further epidemiological studies.