Pesticide Fate Research Group (PFRG)

Organic Chemistry Research Laboratory

Organic Chemistry Research Laboratory

Chemists and hydrologists at the Organic Chemistry Research Laboratory (OCRL) develop targeted analytical methods for the quantitation of chemicals that can impact the health of organisms and humans.

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New - Neonicotinoid Seed Treatment Study

New - Neonicotinoid Seed Treatment Study

Data on the transport (via irrigation runoff) of neonicotinoid insecticides to surface waters in California's Salinas Valley.

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USGS Environmental Health Science

USGS Environmental Health Science

USGS Environmental Health science provides support for the study of contaminants in the environment. Our goal is to protect that most precious resource—health.

Environmental Health

Science Center Objects

Pesticides are applied in agricultural and urban areas to control weeds, insects, fungus, and other pests.  Applied pesticides and their degradates can be transported off-site through a variety of mechanisms; these pesticides can then be found in non-target areas. Pesticide transport can occur through the atmosphere, in the aqueous phase (surface and groundwater) and associated with soil/sediment.  Depending on persistence and concentration, pesticides can cause adverse effects to aquatic organisms and humans. To understand pesticide exposure, it is imperative that we understand pesticide fate and transport mechanisms.

Pesticide terminology chart

The above illustration lists pesticide terminology commonly used by scientists. (Click image to enlarge.)

The Pesticide Fate Research Group (PFRG), located at the USGS California Water Science Center, is focused on assessing the occurrence, fate, and transport of current-use pesticides and other organic contaminants in aquatic and terrestrial environments throughout California and the nation. The PFRG is a dynamic group of chemists, hydrologists, and physical scientists, with specialized training and experience. The PFRG is involved in every aspect of the research process: field study design and sampling, analytical method development in multiple matrices (water, sediment, plants, biota), sample analysis using state of the art instrumentation, data interpretation and data management, and writing and reporting results to diverse stakeholders.

While pesticides are the main research focus of the group, the PFRG does research on other organic chemicals, using their skillset and analytical capabilities to work on a broader range of environmental contaminants including disinfection by-products, chemicals related to cannabis production, alkylphenols, etc.

PFRG Group history

The above chart shows the history of the Pesticide Fate Research Group. (Click image to enlarge.)



The PFRG focuses on building collaborative relationships with State cooperators, researchers in academia, and scientists within the USGS and at other federal agencies. As a result of our collaborative nature, project funds come from a variety of sources: USGS mission areas such as Environmental Health (Toxic Substances Hydrology Program and Contaminant Biology Program), Ecosystems, and Water, other USGS Water Science Centers, and Cooperator sources such as California State Department of Pesticide Regulation, Water Resources Control Board, Department of Water Resources, etc.  

These collaborative networks are exemplified in our Publications and in our current projects summarized on our Related Science page.