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Analytical Methods For Performing Pesticide Degradation Studies In Environmental Samples

Z. L. Cardeal, A. G. Souza, L. Amorim
Published 2011 · Environmental Science

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Pesticides are groups of artificially synthesized substances, toxic and non-biodegradable in the environment, that persist after application and are subject to some chemical processes of degradation, hydrolysis, oxidation, and photolysis by the ecosystem (Ormad et al., 1997; Ariaz-Estevez et al., 2008). According to Law 7802 of 11 July 1989, pesticides and similar substances are defined as those products and agents of physical, chemical or biological processes intended for use in the production, storage and processing of agricultural products, in pastures, in the protection of native or implanted forests and other ecosystems, and also in urban, aqueous and industrial environments, whose purpose is to change the composition of the flora or fauna, to preserve them from the harmful action of living organisms considered to be harmful (Mahalashmi et al., 2007). This group of substances can be classified according to the purpose for which they are intended, the mode or period of action, or the chemical function such as: insecticide (insects), fungicide (fungi), rodenticide (rodents), moluscicide (snails), defoliant (leaf harvesting), dissecting (foliage). They are extensively used as insecticides, herbicides and nematicides, and they are included in the classes of organochlorides, organophosphates, and pyrethroids. More than 500 different formulations of pesticides have been used in the environment, largely in agricultural activities, for many decades. Pesticides are widely studied as environmental contaminants because of their extensive use in the control of pests affecting agricultural crops, homes, and gardens. Because of their chemical characteristics, they represent a type of pollutant that shows variable persistence and biochemical and photochemical degradation (Bandala et al., 2007). Some studies show that, less than 1% of the total quantity of pesticides used in agriculture reaches its target. The remainder contaminates soil and other environmental compartments, air, and surface and groundwater. The fact that they are not biodegradable, together with their continued use, makes them a significant problem and a critical issue, with potentially damaging and unforeseen consequences for the future (Kapustka et al., 1996; Bandala et al., 2002; Acero et al., 2008; Veiga et al., 2006). In 1995, US $1.6 million in actual pesticides were sold in Brazil. That amount increased to $2.5 million in 2007 (Andreu & Pico, 2004). The use of pesticides in the world has increased five fold in the last 30 years (Nawab et al., 2003).
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