Pesticide photolysis in prairie potholes: Probing photosensitized processes

Teng Zeng, William A. Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


Prairie pothole lakes (PPLs) are glacially derived, ecologically important water bodies found in central North America and represent a unique setting in which extensive agriculture occurs within wetland ecosystems. In the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), elevated pesticide use and increasing hydrologic connectivity have raised concerns about the impact of nonpoint source agricultural pollution on the water quality of PPLs and downstream aquatic systems. Despite containing high dissolved organic matter (DOM) levels, the photoreactivity of the PPL water and the photochemical fate of pesticides entering PPLs are largely unknown. In this study, the photodegradation of sixteen pesticides was investigated in PPL waters sampled from North Dakota, under simulated and natural sunlight. Enhanced pesticide removal rates in the irradiated PPL water relative to the control buffer pointed to the importance of indirect photolysis pathways involving photochemically produced reactive intermediates (PPRIs). The steady-state concentrations of carbonate radical, hydroxyl radical, singlet oxygen, and triplet-excited state DOM were measured and second-order rate constants for reactions of pesticides with these PPRIs were calculated. Results from this study underscore the role of DOM as photosensitizer in limiting the persistence of pesticides in prairie wetlands through photochemical reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6735-6745
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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