This paper summarizes the preliminary results of field investigations of pesticide behaviour in the UK, Barbados and Sri Lanka. Field observations of groundwater pesticide concentrations in these studies range up to 100 µg/L, but are commonly less than 5 µg/L. The risk of pesticide concentrations in pumped water reaching 10 or 100 times guideline values from normal agricultural use at recommended application rates is probably small. Simple laboratory determinations of degradation rates support earlier studies and general considerations of subsurface environmental conditions suggest that pesticides are more likely to be persistent in groundwater than in soils. Simple modelling of the saturated zone movement of pesticides towards wells indicates that concentrations in pumped discharge are highly senstitive to aquifer porosity, pesticide half-life and extent of cultivated area. The greatest risk to groundwater from normal usage of pesticides in agriculture will occur where persistent compounds are applied over aquifers which are shallow, permeable and thin, and overlain by permeable soils
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