Application of biodegradation in mitigating and remediating pesticide contamination of freshwater resources: state of the art and challenges for optimization
Pesticides play an important role in the success of modern farming and food production. However, the release of pesticides to the environment arising from non-approved use, poor practice, illegal operations or misuse is increasingly recognised as contributing to water contamination. Biobeds appear to offer a cost-effective method for treating pesticide-contaminated waste. This study was performed to determine whether biobeds can degrade relatively complex pesticide mixtures when applied repeatedly. A pesticide mixture containing isoproturon, pendimethalin, chlorpyrifos, chlorothalonil, epoxiconazole and dimethoate was incubated in biomix and topsoil at concentrations to simulate pesticide disposal. Although the data suggest that interactions between pesticides are possible, the effects were of less significance in biomix than in topsoil. The same mixture was applied on three occasions at 30-day intervals. Degradation was significantly quicker in biomix than in topsoil. The rate of degradation, however, decreased with each additional treatment, possibly due to the toxicity of the pesticide mixture to the microbial community. Incubations with chlorothalonil and pendimethalin carried out in sterile and non-sterile biomix indicated that degradation, rather than irreversible adsorption to the matrix, was the main mechanism responsible for the reduction in recovered residues. Results from these experiments suggest that biobeds offer a viable means of treating pesticide waste.