RETRACTED ARTICLE: Development of a screening tool to assess the temporal risk of pesticides leaching to groundwater using the source, target, vector approach. An Irish case study for shallow groundwater

  • Herve E. Labite
  • Enda CumminsEmail author


During this study, a groundwater screening tool was developed to assess the temporal risk of groundwater contamination from the use of pesticides. It is based on a source, vector, target approach. The method utilised in this study uses a semi-quantitative probabilistic risk assessment where the input parameters were classified and assigned a relative score from 1 to 5 (i.e. 1 = no risk and 5 = high risk). The model was parameterised by using national data and calibrated with 2 years of national pesticide groundwater monitoring data. After calibration, two specific sites were selected for model validation. Based on the presence of the source, vector and target, the evaluation indicated that the temporal risk is site specific (i.e. May to December for the country model, June to September for the Oak Park site and September for the Castledockrell site). A sensitivity analysis performed on the national scale revealed that the groundwater vulnerability category (gv), the clay content (cc%), the persistence of pesticides in soil (DT50) and the rainfall represented by wet day (wd) were the most important parameters that affected model predictions (correlation coefficients of 0.54, −0.39, 0.35 and 0.31, respectively), highlighting the importance of soil hydrogeological conditions, soil type and rainfall in influencing water model predictions. The model developed can help to identify the temporal risk from pesticides to groundwater and guide regulators in highlighting at-risk periods, therefore allowing more focused monitoring programmes.


Screening tool Score Pesticide Monte Carlo Groundwater contamination Risk assessment 



Application rate


Soil air content


Attenuation factor


Bulk density


Body weight


Water consumption


Score for texture

CF1, CF2 and CF3

Weighting factor for the source, vector and target, respectively


Commission of the European Communities


Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food


Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine


Depth to groundwater


Pesticide half-life in soil




Effective concentration


Effective dose


Model efficiency


Environmental Protection Agency


Effective precipitation


European Union


Soil field capacity


GUS score


Groundwater recharge


Score for groundwater vulnerability category


Groundwater ubiquity score


Thickness of water table


Chemical intake


Henry’s law constant


Soil sorption coefficient


Lethal dose


Lethal concentration


Leached quantity


Lowest observed adverse effect level


Pesticide application month


No observed adverse effect level


No observed effect concentration


No observed effect level




Pesticide Control Service


Particle density


Predicted Environmental Concentration


Plant Protection Products




Risk ratio value


Recharge coefficient


Retardation factor


Overall month risk score


Score for source


Soil organic carbon content of soil


Score for target


Number of days following the application month


Toxicity exposure ratio


Score for temperature


Score for wet day


Score for vector


World Health Organization



The authors would like to thank the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) under the Research Stimulus Fund. The authors are also grateful to Mannix A from the EPA and McManus SL from Trinity College who provided monitoring data at national and site scales, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCD School of Biosystems Engineering, College of Engineering and ArchitectureUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland

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