Pesticide sorption and leaching potential on three Hawaiian soils

Kathleen E. Hall, Chittaranjan Ray, Seo Jin Ki, Kurt A. Spokas, William C. Koskinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


On the Hawaiian Islands, groundwater is the principal source of potable water and contamination of this key resource by pesticides is of great concern. To evaluate the leaching potential of four weak acid herbicides [aminocyclopyrachlor, picloram, metsulfuron-methyl, biologically active diketonitrile degradate of isoxaflutole (DKN)] and two neutral non-ionizable herbicides [oxyfluorfen, alachlor], their sorption coefficients were determined on three prevalent soils from the island of Oahu. Metsulfuron-methyl, aminocylcopyrachlor, picloram, and DKN were relatively low sorbing herbicides (Koc=3-53 mLg-1), alachlor was intermediate (Koc=120-150 mLg-1), and oxyfluorfen sorbed very strongly to the three soils (Koc > 12,000 mLg-1). Following determination of Koc values, the groundwater ubiquity score (GUS) indices for these compounds were calculated to predicted their behavior with the Comprehensive Leaching Risk Assessment System (CLEARS; Tier-1 methodology for Hawaii). Metsulfuron-methyl, aminocyclopyrachlor, picloram, and DKN would be categorized as likely leachers in all three Hawaiian soils, indicating a high risk of groundwater contamination across the island of Oahu. In contrast, oxyfluorfen, regardless of the degradation rate, would possess a low and acceptable leaching risk due to its high sorption on all three soils. The leaching potential of alachlor was more difficult to classify, with a GUS value between 1.8 and 2.8. In addition, four different biochar amendments to these soils did not significantly alter their sorption capacities for aminocyclopyrachlor, indicating a relatively low impact of black carbon additions from geologic volcanic inputs of black carbon. Due to the fact that pesticide environmental risks are chiefly dependent on local soil characteristics, this work has demonstrated that once soil specific sorption parameters are known one can assess the potential pesticide leaching risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - Aug 5 2015


  • Fate and transport
  • Groundwater ubiquity score (GUS) index
  • Groundwater vulnerability
  • Herbicides
  • Tier 1 model
  • Tropical soils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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