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Runoff-Related Endosulfan Contamination and Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Response in Rural Basins Near Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Information in the open literature about the fate and effects of pesticides in small streams from agricultural areas of Argentina is very rare. The objective of the present work was to study the pesticide contamination and potential biological effects in basins that have undergone intense agricultural activity, mainly related to the cultivation of soybeans. Three streams (Maguire, Helves, and Horqueta) with a low-flow discharge (0.1 and 0.2 m3/s) in March close to the city of Arrecifes were studied during the period of maximum insecticide application, between February and April 2001. Various sampling devices were installed to trap suspended particles, runoff, and floodwater plus sediment throughout the study period. The suspended-particle samples were analyzed for the insecticides endosulfan (END), chlorpyrifos, and cypermethrin. Water chemistry and the macroinvertebrate communities were assessed on four occasions and the organismic drift was measured continuously. Following a 184-mm rainfall on March 1, 2001, β-endosulfan concentrations up to 318 and 43 µg/kg were measured from suspended-particle samples from Horqueta and Helves, respectively. No END contamination was detected in Maguire. Chlorpyrifos and cypermethrin were not detected in any of the streams. A significant decrease in the average macroinvertebrate species density was observed in Horqueta (from 12.8 ± 0.5 to 9 ± 0.7 species; ANOVA, p < 0.05) and Helves (from 10.8 ± 1.7 to 3.3 ± 1.3 species; p < 0.001) following the same rainfall event at the beginning of March, while the species density in Maguire remained constant at 7.9 ± 0.3 species. The runoff primarily reduced species abundances of Odonata and Ephemeroptera significantly (p < 0.01) in Horqueta and Helves but not in Maguire. A greater drift of Smicridae (Trichoptera) and Ephemeroptera occurred in Helves and Horqueta during this runoff event, while no changes in the macroinvertebrate drift were detectable in Maguire. This study highlights the potential pesticide effects on macroinvertebrate communities in Argentinian rural streams. It is suggested that a small wetland area formed by Maguire between the agriculturally used catchment and the sampling site contributes to the absence of contamination and effects at this site.

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Jergentz, S., Mugni, H., Bonetto, C. et al. Runoff-Related Endosulfan Contamination and Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Response in Rural Basins Near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 46, 345–352 (2004).

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