Concentration and movement of neonicotinoids as particulate matter downwind during agricultural practices using air samplers in southwestern Ontario, Canada

Chemosphere. 2017 Dec;188:130-138. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.08.126. Epub 2017 Aug 25.


Atmospheric emissions of neonicotinoid seed treatment insecticides as particulate matter in field crops occur mainly for two reasons: 1) due to abraded dust of treated seed generated during planting using vacuum planters, and 2) as a result of disturbances (tillage or wind events) in the surface of parental soils which release wind erodible soil-bound residues. In the present study, concentration and movement of neonicotinoids as particulate matter were quantified under real conditions using passive and active air samplers. Average neonicotinoid concentrations in Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) using passive samplers were 0.48 ng/cm2, trace, trace (LOD 0.80 and 0.04 ng/cm2 for clothianidin and thiamethoxam, respectively), and using active samplers 16.22, 1.91 and 0.61 ng/m3 during planting, tillage and wind events, respectively. There was a difference between events on total neonicotinoid concentration collected in particulate matter using either passive or active sampling. Distance of sampling from the source field during planting of treated seed had an effect on total neonicotinoid air concentration. However, during tillage distance did not present an effect on measured concentrations. Using hypothetical scenarios, values of contact exposure for a honey bee were estimated to be in the range from 1.1% to 36.4% of the reference contact LD50 value of clothianidin of 44 ng/bee.

Keywords: Agriculture; Clothianidin; Neonicotinoids; Particulate sampling; Thiamethoxam.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Bees / drug effects
  • Dust / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Neonicotinoids / analysis*
  • Ontario
  • Particulate Matter / analysis*
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Wind


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dust
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Particulate Matter
  • Pesticide Residues