Photostability and photodegradation pathways of distinctive pesticides

Transformation of pesticides in the environment is a highly complex process affected by different factors. Biological and physical-chemical factors may play a role in the degradation to variable extent. Photodecomposition might be regarded as one of the most crucial factors affecting the fate of pesticides. Therefore, our study focused on revealing specific details of the photolytic degradation of pesticides. The toxicity of the examined pesticides is well known; however, little information is available regarding their natural degradation processes. More detailed examinations are required to reveal the exact mechanism of the pesticide decomposition and the biological impacts of the degradates. Significance of this study is enhanced by the fact that decomposition of pesticides may result in the formation of toxic degradation products. The photolytic degradation of frequently applied pesticides (e.g., acetochlor, simazine, chlorpyrifos, and carbendazim) with different chemical structures was investigated. An immersible ultraviolet light source was applied to induce photodegradation. The degradation processes were followed by thin-layer chromatography and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry techniques. Electron ionization mass spectrometry was used to identify the degradation species. Detailed mechanisms of photolytic transformation were established by identification of each degradate. The photolytic degradation of pesticides of distinctive chemical character exhibited markedly different photodecomposition mechanisms. At least four degradation species were detected and identified in each case. Loss of alkyl, chloro, and hydroxyl groups as well as cleavage of alkyloxy, amide, amino-alkyl, and ester bonds might be regarded as typical decomposition patterns. Deamination and ring opening might be observed at the last stages of decomposition.

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