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Neonicotinoids are a popular and widely-used class of insecticides whose heavy usage rates and purported negative impacts on bees and other beneficial insects has led to questions about their mobility and accumulation in the environment. Neonicotinoid compounds are currently registered for over 140 different crop uses in the United States, with commercial growers continuing to rely heavily on neonicotinoid insecticides for the control of key insect pests through a combination of in-ground and foliar applications. In 2008, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) began testing for neonicotinoids in groundwater test wells in the state, reporting detections of one or more neonicotinoids in dozens of shallow groundwater test wells. In 2011, similar detection levels were confirmed in several high-capacity overhead center-pivot irrigation systems in central Wisconsin. The current study was initiated to investigate the spatial extent and magnitude of neonicotinoid contamination in groundwater in and around areas of irrigated commercial agriculture in central Wisconsin. From 2013-2015 a total of 317 samples were collected from 91 unique high-capacity irrigation wells and tested for the presence of thiamethoxam (TMX), a neonicotinoid, using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. 67% of all samples were positive for TMX at a concentration above the analytical limit of quantification (0.05 μg/L) and 78% of all wells tested positive at least once. Mean detection was 0.28 μg/L, with a maximum detection of 1.67 μg/L. Five wells had at least one detection exceeding 1.00 μg/L. Furthermore, an analysis of the spatial structure of these well detects suggests that contamination profiles vary across the landscape, with differences in mean detection levels observed from landscape (25 km), to farm (5 km), to individual well (500 m) scales. We also provide an update of DATCP's neonicotinoid monitoring in Wisconsin's shallow groundwater test wells and private potable wells for the years 2011-2017.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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