Persistence of atrazine and alachlor in ground water aquifers and soil

A. P. Schwab, P. A. Splichal, M. K. Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Degradation of atrazine and alachlor in saturated aquifer materials and soil was studied in the laboratory. A static aquifer was represented by a set of stagnant flasks and a well-mixed aquifer was simulated by recirculating columns. Water was tested at selected time intervals over six months and analyzed for herbicides and metabolites. Under all conditions, atrazine was more persistent than alachlor. Increased temperature had little effect on atrazine dissipation but did increase alachlor degradation rates, especially in the sterilized treatments. The addition of carbon and nitrogen prolonged the initial period before the onset of degradation in some of the columns. Enhanced mass transfer of the herbicides, nutrients, and oxygen in the recirculating columns dramatically increased dissipation of atrazine and alachlor. The degradation rates of atrazine and alachlor were 2 to 5 times faster in the recirculating columns than in the stagnant flasks. Atrazine was more persistent in the aquifer materials than in the soils, while alachlor dissipation was similar in the soils and recirculating aquifer columns, but was slower in the stagnant flasks. The prolonged persistence of atrazine under static, aquifer conditions (t 1/2 = 206 to 710 days) indicates that natural mechanisms are not sufficient to alleviate the risk of atrazine buildup over time; however, in a well mixed aquifer, atrazine degradation rates should be higher (t1/2 = 66 to 106 days) and the threat of atrazine accumulation is diminished. Alachlor persistence at low concentrations (<10 μg L-1) in aquifers should not pose a long-term threat to ground water supplies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-235
Number of pages33
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Alachlor
  • Aquifer
  • Atrazine
  • Degradation
  • Environment
  • Ground water
  • Herbicides
  • Leachate
  • Soil
  • Transport
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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