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Organochlorine pesticide residues in surface water and groundwater along Pampanga River, Philippines


Pesticide use in developing countries such as the Philippines has significantly increased food production. However, the improper and poorly regulated practice of pesticide use may lead to pollution of water resources. To detect and assess the extent of pesticide contamination, residues of organochlorine pesticides were tested in surface water and groundwater in selected areas along the Pampanga River, Philippines. The physicochemical properties of the surface water and ground water were also analyzed and results revealed that phosphate concentrations in surface water and groundwater samples were two to three times higher than the regulatory limits of 0.5 mg L−1, whereas the nitrate concentrations were below the regulatory limit of 7 mg L−1. Results further revealed that surface water and groundwater showed the presence of seven organochlorine pesticides and residues listed in the Stockholm Convention list of 2009 such as dieldrin, endrin aldehyde, α-BHC, β-BHC, δ-BHC, γ-chlordane, and endosulfan II. The concentrations of organochlorine pesticides including endrin aldehyde, total BHCs (i.e., α-BHC, β-BHC, δ-BHC), and heptachlor in groundwater were also found to exceed regulatory limits, indicating that these chemicals are still being used illegally and remains a major environmental concern despite the bans and restrictions. We suggest that routine chemical monitoring (including seasonal variations) coupled with biological monitoring using a battery of biomarker tests of organochlorine pesticide and residues along the Pampanga River is necessary to provide inputs for the control and reduction of environmental pollution and for minimizing human health risks.

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We thank Ariel Torres, Dafrose Bajaro, Clarisse Rivera, and Gerald Dicen for their assistance during ocular and sampling activities and the owners of the tube wells who allowed us to collect the water samples.


This research received partial support from the Ateneo de Manila University–Loyola School Grants (SOSE-05-2014). The University Research Council of Ateneo de Manila University has granted a research faculty fellowship to Ian A. Navarrete during the preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ian A. Navarrete.

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Navarrete, I.A., Tee, K.A.M., Unson, J.R.S. et al. Organochlorine pesticide residues in surface water and groundwater along Pampanga River, Philippines. Environ Monit Assess 190, 289 (2018).

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  • Agriculture
  • Groundwater
  • Organochlorine pesticides
  • Pampanga River
  • Surface water
  • Water pollution