Summertime transport of current-use pesticides from California's Central Valley to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, USA

James S. LeNoir, Laura L. Mcconnell, Gary M. Fellers, Thomas M. Cahill, James N. Seiber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


Agricultural activity in California's Central Valley may be an important source of pesticides that are transported in the air to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, USA. Pesticides applied to this intensive crop production area may volatilize under warm temperatures typical of the valley and be transported through the atmosphere to be deposited in the cooler, higher elevation regions of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To determine the extent of summertime atmospheric transport of pesticides to this region, high- volume air, dry deposition, and surface water samples were collected in the Central Valley and at different elevations in California's Sequoia National Park. Results revealed that the highest residue concentrations were those of compounds with heavy summertime agricultural use. A significant drop in pesticide concentrations in both air and water samples was observed within a few 100-m elevation from the valley; however, levels remained relatively constant between ~500 and 2,000 m. Water concentrations from two areas above 3,000 m contained levels less than a tenth as high as those at lower elevations. Possible effects of the pesticides were estimated using measured water concentrations to calculate total exposure of three aquatic species to organophosphate insecticides. Aggregate exposure calculations showed concentrations were well below 96-h LC50 values for rainbow trout and stonefly but concentrations may be harmful to amphipods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2715-2722
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric transport
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Deposition
  • Endosulfan
  • Sierra Nevada Mountains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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