Evaluating pesticide degradation in the environment: blind spots and emerging opportunities

Science. 2013 Aug 16;341(6147):752-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1236281.


The benefits of global pesticide use come at the cost of their widespread occurrence in the environment. An array of abiotic and biotic transformations effectively removes pesticides from the environment, but may give rise to potentially hazardous transformation products. Despite a large body of pesticide degradation data from regulatory testing and decades of pesticide research, it remains difficult to anticipate the extent and pathways of pesticide degradation under specific field conditions. Here, we review the major scientific challenges in doing so and discuss emerging opportunities to identify pesticide degradation processes in the field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Biodegradation, Environmental*
  • Biotransformation
  • Environmental Pollutants / chemistry*
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry
  • Groundwater / chemistry
  • Pesticides / chemistry*
  • Pesticides / metabolism*
  • Photochemical Processes
  • Soil / chemistry


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Pesticides
  • Soil