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Kansas Water Science Center

Formation and Transport of Deethylatrazine and Deisopropylatrazine in Surface Water

By E.M. Thurman, M.T. Meyer, M.S. Mills, L.R. Zimmerman, C.A. Perry, and D.A. Goolsby


Field disappearance studies and a regional study of nine rivers in the Midwest Corn Belt show that deethylatrazine (DEA; 2-amino-4-chloro-6-isopropylamino-s-triazine) and deisopropylatrazine (DIA; 2-amino-4-chloro-6-ethylamino-s-triazine) occur frequently in surface water that has received runoff from two parent triazine herbicides, atrazine (2-chloro-4-ethylamino-6-isopropylamino-s-triazine) and cyanazine (2-chloro-4-ethylamino-6-methylpropionitrileamino-s-triazine). The concentration of DEA and DIA in surface water varies with the hydrologic conditions of the basin and the timing of runoff, with maximum concentrations reaching 5 g/L (DEA + DIA). Early rainfall followed by a dry summer will result in an early peak concentration of metabolites in surface water. A wet summer will delay the maximum concentrations of metabolites and increase their runoff into surface water, occasionally resulting in a slight separation of the parent atrazine maximum concentrations from the metabolite maximum concentrations, giving a "second flush" of triazine metabolites to surface water. Replicated field dissipation studies of atrazine and cyanazine indicate that DIA/DEA ratios will vary from 0.4 0.1 when atrazine is the major triazine present to 0.6 0.1 when significant amounts of cyanazine are present. A comparison of transport time of DEA and DIA from field plots to their appearance in surface water indicates that storage and dilution are occurring in the alluvial aquifers of the basin.

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Thurman, E.M., Meyer, M.T., Mills, M.S., Zimmerman, L.R., Perry, C.A., and Goolsby, D.A., 1994, Formation and transport of deethylatrazine and deisopropylatrazine in surface water [abst.]: Environmental Science & Technology, v 28, no. 13, p. 2267-2277.

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