Testing Pesticides and Degradates in Public Drinking Water

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2009 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
MN Dept. of Agriculture
Recipient Type
State Government
Start Date
July 2008
End Date
June 2010
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2008, Chp. 367, Sec. 2, Subd. 04c
Appropriation Language

$368,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of agriculture, in cooperation with the commissioner of health, to purchase equipment and supplies to accelerate the sampling of public water supplies for the presence and concentration of pesticides and their degradates for health risk assessments.

2009 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Overview

Overall Project Outcome and Results
Pesticides are known to impact Minnesota's groundwater and there are new pesticides being developed and registered for use every year. To ensure the safe use of new pesticides it is essential to measure the concentration and frequency of their detection in the state's water resources. In addition it is critically important, for proper pesticide management, to be able to analyze water samples for the compounds parent pesticides break down into. It is only through the precise measurement of extremely small quantities of pesticides in the state's water resources that impacts to human and ecological health may be determined.

Through this project the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) laboratory acquired the necessary analytical equipment and developed appropriate analytical methods for analyzing water samples for additional new generation pesticides and their degradates in groundwater and drinking water in Minnesota. The new equipment and related methods expanded the spectrum of compounds the MDA is able to detect in water samples, increased precision of water sample analysis, and improved the overall efficiency of water sample analysis at the MDA. Furthermore, the MDA laboratory is now capable of measuring many pesticides to levels of sub parts-per-trillion in a water sample. Measures of such precision will allow the MDA to manage pesticide use to keep concentrations below levels injurious to humans or the environment.

Prior to completion of this project the MDA was able to analyze water samples for 36 pesticide parent compounds and 11 breakdown products. The new methods are able to analyze samples for 88 parent pesticides and 22 breakdown products. Before the new methods were developed the lowest measurable value for a specific pesticide was between 50 and 1000 parts-per-trillion while the laboratory is now able to measure pesticide quantities between 0.8 and 50 parts-per-trillion, depending on the specific pesticide being measured.

Sample results for monitoring conducted by the MDA during winter and spring periods in 2010 are showing interesting results. A small number of pesticides never before discovered have been detected, albeit at very low concentrations. A clearer image of the occurrence of various pesticide breakdown products is also beginning to emerge and ongoing work should provide insight to the balance between pesticide parent and degradate detections in the state's water resources. These results will also allow the MDA to more precisely determine pesticide impacts to the water resources and aid in understanding the effectiveness of recommended BMPs and other pesticide management practices.

To the degree that time and lab resources allow, the equipment purchased and methods developed through this project will also be available for use by any future publicly funded projects at no cost except standard operating expenses.

Project Results Use and Dissemination
Immediately following successful development of the new methods the MDA laboratory analyzed 100 samples from public drinking water wells across the state. These wells were selected and sampled by the Minnesota Department of Health from the available community wells that are not typically included in the US-EPA Safe Drinking Water Act pesticide monitoring requirements. As of this report results are just becoming available. Results of the testing will be made available by the Department of Health following proper notification of the participating communities.

In addition to the one time sampling of the community wells, every sample collected by the MDA monitoring program for both surface water and groundwater will be analyzed with the new methods. The first results from the MDA monitoring program samples will be published in mid 2011 as part of the program's annual water quality monitoring data report. Development of the methods and analysis of samples utilizing the methods will also be reported to the US-EPA as part of the federal reporting requirements enabling the registration of pesticides for use in the state of Minnesota.

Project Details