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New USDA Pesticide Data Program Report Released

The Pesticide Data Program’s (PDP) 19th Annual Summary for calendar year 2009 has just been released. The U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented the PDP in 1991 to test food commodities for pesticide residues. The data produced by the PDP are used to estimate consumer dietary exposure to pesticides and the relationship of those exposures to science-based standards of safety.  In addition to food testing under the PDP, USDA also examines the contributions of water through monitoring of public drinking water systems (surface sources) and ground water (including schools and private wells).  This report shows that overall pesticide residues found on foods tested are at levels below the tolerances set by EPA.  No levels above MCLs or Health Advisories were found in the drinking water samples.

The Pesticide Data Program (PDP) monitors public drinking water systems using surface water sources.  The monitoring revealed a number of pesticides in raw and finished water.  PDP analyzed 612 drinking water samples, including 306 finished drinking water samples and 306 untreated (raw intake) drinking water samples. PDP detected 53 different residues (including metabolites), representing 42 pesticides, in finished drinking water and 49 different residues (including metabolites), representing 38 pesticides, in the untreated intake water.  Most of the detections were herbicides, with 2,4-D, atrazine, prometon, and a metolachlor metabolite the most common.  Each of these was detected in more than 80% of samples.   None of the finished drinking water samples exceeded EPA MCLs or Health Advisories for any pesticide detected. In fact, the majority of pesticides included in the PDP screens were not detected.

In groundwater (including some nontransient noncommunity sources), results were similar.  Here PDP analyzed 278 groundwater samples from 278 different collection sites, including 95 from agricultural wells, 113 from school/daycare wells, and 70 from private residential wells. PDP detected 29 different residues (including metabolites), representing 19 pesticides, in the groundwater samples. Again, most of the detections were for herbicides although generally at lower concentrations than the public water systems. There were a few contaminants found in significant numbers (greater than 50% of samples) especially in private wells.  These included an alachlor metabolite, three atrazine metabolites, and two metolachlor metabolites.

The complete report and other information concerning the Pesticide Data Program can be obtained from the USDA website at www.ams.usda.gov/pdp.