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December 2019

Organochlorine Pesticides in the Atmospheric Environment

Journal/Book: Reprinted from Nature Vol. 208 No. 5017 pp. 1317-1318 December 25 1965. 1965;

Abstract: Laboratory of the Government Chemist Cornwall House London S.E.1. POLLUTION of the environment has long been a subject of public concern and much attention has been paid recently to the new ecological factors introduced by the wide agricultural usage of pesticidal chemicals. Contamination of soil and crops has often featured in environmental studies of these pesticides but so far little attention has been given to atmospheric pollution although as long ago as 1961 Harris and Lichtenstein1 showed that the loss by volatilization of aldrin dieldrin heptachlor and gammabenzene hexachloride was a major factor in their disappearance from soils treated with these compounds. Later in the United States the President's Science Advisory Committee drew attention to the fact that inhalation of air contaminated with pesticides might present a hazard to man2 and recommended that air should be continuously monitored for pesticide residue levels. In 1965 an Advisory Committee of the United States Food and Drug Administration referred to studies which showed the presence of up to 0075 p.p.m. of dieldrin in total diets1 and considered the possibility that half as much again could be absorbed from "air or other exposures". Little practical work seems to have been undertaken to determine pesticide residues in the atmospheric environment but in the United Kingdom Wheatley and Hardman4 recently reported indications of the presence of organochlorine insecticides in rein-water collected in an agricultural area at Wellesbourne in Warwickshire. Steps were therefore taken at this Laboratory to examine rainwater collected in the Metropolitan area. Two collecting stations were set up in Central London one being an the roof of the Laboratory of the Government Chemist in Lambeth S.E.1 and approximately 20 m above ground-level. The other was set up with the cooperation of the Meteorological Office at the London Weather Centre's Station an the roof of State House High Holborn W.C.1 some 53 m above ground-level and about 145 km distant from the other station across the River Thames. At these two stations rein was collected in all-glass apparatus with amber-coloured receiving vessels to reduce the incidence of photochemical degradations. Samples were removed monthly for examination. ___MH

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