Residue patterns of currently, historically and never-used organochlorine pesticides in agricultural soils across China and associated health risks

Environ Pollut. 2016 Dec:219:315-322. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.10.060. Epub 2016 Oct 28.


Organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) with different usage states, such as currently, historically or never used, may show different behaviors and potential risks in the environment. It is essential to identify their distribution patterns and fates and to assess their associated health risks to humans. In this study, based on a nationwide sampling campaign across China, we determined the concentrations of currently (endosulfan), historically (chlordane and heptachlor) and never-used (aldrin, dieldrin and endrin) OCPs in agricultural soils. The total residue inventories of ∑Endosulfans, ∑Chlordanes, heptachlor and ∑Drins in soils were 260, 64.3, 54.2 and 88.6 t, respectively. The residues of endosulfan were influenced by current usage, showing a latitude transect trend. Drins were mainly from long-range transport, but the illegal usage in China still affected their residues. This finding indicates that endosulfan and drins in Chinese agricultural soils mainly follow the primary and secondary distribution pattern, respectively. Both primary and secondary distribution have a great impact on the distribution pattern of chlordane, which had been banned for only 4 years at the time we sampled. The health risks of these OCPs were estimated based on their concentrations. There were 0.813% and 1.63% of samples that exceeded the target values for chlordane and endrin according to the Netherlands guideline for unpolluted soil. Their residues in most of the samples posed no or few non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks to human beings. The results from this study will provide powerful support for pollution control and management.

Keywords: Agricultural soils; Chlordane; Drin; Endosulfan; Health risk.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • China
  • Chlordan / analysis
  • Dieldrin / analysis
  • Endosulfan / analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Environmental Pollution / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis*
  • Insecticides / analysis*
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Soil / chemistry*
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Insecticides
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Chlordan
  • Dieldrin
  • Endosulfan