Articles | Volume 16, issue 3
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 1531–1544, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 1531–1544, 2016

Research article 10 Feb 2016

Research article | 10 Feb 2016

Pesticides in the atmosphere: a comparison of gas-particle partitioning and particle size distribution of legacy and current-use pesticides

C. Degrendele1,2, K. Okonski1, L. Melymuk1, L. Landlová1, P. Kukučka1, O. Audy1, J. Kohoutek1, P. Čupr1, and J. Klánová1 C. Degrendele et al.
  • 1Masaryk University, RECETOX (Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment), Faculty of Science, Kamenice 753/5, 62500 Brno, Czech Republic
  • 2Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Multiphase Chemistry Department, Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1, 55128 Mainz, Germany

Abstract. This study presents a comparison of seasonal variation, gas-particle partitioning, and particle-phase size distribution of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and current-use pesticides (CUPs) in air. Two years (2012/2013) of weekly air samples were collected at a background site in the Czech Republic using a high-volume air sampler. To study the particle-phase size distribution, air samples were also collected at an urban and rural site in the area of Brno, Czech Republic, using a cascade impactor separating atmospheric particulates according to six size fractions. Major differences were found in the atmospheric distribution of OCPs and CUPs. The atmospheric concentrations of CUPs were driven by agricultural activities while secondary sources such as volatilization from surfaces governed the atmospheric concentrations of OCPs. Moreover, clear differences were observed in gas-particle partitioning; CUP partitioning was influenced by adsorption onto mineral surfaces while OCPs were mainly partitioning to aerosols through absorption. A predictive method for estimating the gas-particle partitioning has been derived and is proposed for polar and non-polar pesticides. Finally, while OCPs and the majority of CUPs were largely found on fine particles, four CUPs (carbendazim, isoproturon, prochloraz, and terbuthylazine) had higher concentrations on coarse particles ( >  3.0 µm), which may be related to the pesticide application technique. This finding is particularly important and should be further investigated given that large particles result in lower risks from inhalation (regardless the toxicity of the pesticide) and lower potential for long-range atmospheric transport.

Short summary
We examined gas-particle partitioning and size-fraction specific particle phase distributions for current use pesticides, identifying seasonal, and source-related trends, and contrasting with those of legacy organochlorine pesticides. The timing of pesticide use, seasonal air concentration trends, and particle size distributions were related. This informs our understanding of the atmospheric fate and transport of current use pesticides.
Final-revised paper