Long-term pollution by chlordecone of tropical volcanic soils in the French West Indies: a simple leaching model accounts for current residue

Environ Pollut. 2009 May;157(5):1697-705. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2008.12.015. Epub 2009 Jan 23.


Chlordecone was applied between 1972 and 1993 in banana fields of the French West Indies. This resulted in long-term pollution of soils and contamination of waters, aquatic biota, and crops. To assess pollution level and duration according to soil type, WISORCH, a leaching model based on first-order desorption kinetics, was developed and run. Its input parameters are soil organic carbon content (SOC) and SOC/water partitioning coefficient (K(oc)). It accounts for current chlordecone soil contents and drainage water concentrations. The model was valid for andosol, which indicates that neither physico-chemical nor microbial degradation occurred. Dilution by previous deep tillages makes soil scrapping unrealistic. Lixiviation appeared the main way to reduce pollution. Besides the SOC and rainfall increases, K(oc) increased from nitisol to ferralsol and then andosol while lixiviation efficiency decreased. Consequently, pollution is bound to last for several decades for nitisol, centuries for ferralsol, and half a millennium for andosol.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Agriculture*
  • Chlordecone / analysis*
  • Chlordecone / chemistry
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Guadeloupe
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Insecticides / analysis*
  • Insecticides / chemistry
  • Martinique
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Musa
  • Rain
  • Soil / analysis*
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Soil Pollutants / chemistry
  • Time Factors
  • Volcanic Eruptions
  • Water Movements


  • Insecticides
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Chlordecone