Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Highly variable soil dissipation of metaldehyde can explain its environmental persistence and mobility

Lookup NU author(s): Nathan Keighley, Professor David WernerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 The AuthorsThere are increasing concerns about the hazard posed to drinking water resources by persistent, mobile, and toxic (PMT) substances in the environment. For example, the extensive use of metaldehyde-based molluscicide to control slug populations in agricultural fields has frequently led to pollution of surface waters and contamination of drinking water at levels exceeding the statutory limit. Regulatory environmental fate assessments and studies in the literature did not predict that metaldehyde would be persistent in the environment, contrary to observations from monitoring schemes. To understand the reasons for this disparity, this study conducted a suite of degradation experiments, covering different soil types and environmentally realistic conditions in Northern Europe, and generated a distribution of DT50 values for metaldehyde to examine whether degradation rates are underestimated by current risk assessments. The results were found to vary, showing DT50 values ranging from 3.0 to 4150 days, which indicated that metaldehyde had the potential to become persistent. Lack of prior metaldehyde exposure, high moisture content, low temperature, and locally high metaldehyde concentration under pellets were identified as high-risk conditions for low pesticide biodegradation in UK soils.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Keighley N, Ramwell C, Sinclair C, Werner D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Chemosphere

Year: 2021

Volume: 283

Print publication date: 01/11/2021

Online publication date: 14/06/2021

Acceptance date: 08/06/2021

Date deposited: 07/07/2021

ISSN (print): 0045-6535

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1298

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.131165


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
Fera Science Ltd