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Contamination of village wells

part 2 - pesticides

(part 1 nitrate)

Fig. 1., photo: the use of pesticides in Ukraine has dropped down in the ninetieth but is increasing again since 10 years

 Another source of pollution (beside nitrate pollution) is the use of pesticides (as for example chlororganic insecticides) in and around villages. Pesticides are not only used for agriculture ( hop and potato fields etc.), but also in private gardens. Sometimes, they are not used or  the use is limited because of the low income of rural families.

Fig. 2:  Pesticide use is higher than in Soviet times

The choice is mainly a question of money. Private use is focused on the Colorado beetle. If there are no measures taken against this insect, it will destroy a potato garden within a few days. This beetle has appeared in huge quantities especially during the last two years. It can be found even in Kiev!

For the here described investigation it turned out to be difficult to find enough "clean" private gardens (not contaminated with pesticides) for comparison (variant "no use" in fig. 3).

accumulation of pesticides in soils, 5k

Figure 3 

 shows a comparison of three different types of sampling places (average values): private gardens (actually no use of pesticides but possibly in former times), potato fields and hop fields.  Abbreviations: HCH: HCH-isomers, DDT: DDT and its derivatives, other: sum of other chlorinated insecticides as listed in figure 5.

Hop fields are concentrated in a bigger area some 100 km west of the Chernobyl reactor (R in fig. 4).


net of rivers in Ukraine  (22 kB)

Figure 4 shows the position of the investigation area around Luginy (L)

The use of DDT was still common in hop fields a few years ago. During the first years of independence of the Ukraine, there was still an official exception from the former ban of DDT for those fields. Newer information is not easily available. Soils containing more than 100 ug chlorinated pesticides (sum) in 1 kg dry weight must be considered as polluted (following Leidraad bodemsanierung, 1984).
People using pesticides in their own garden should be aware that pesticide products pose a thread to human health. It is known that they cause various types of illness as for example cancer, dysfunction of the immune system, and neurological disruptions. Further consequences are genetic, reproductive and birth defects. Therefore it is recommended here to use methods of biological agriculture as far and as soon as possible, and to diminish the spread of pesticides to a minimum of such substances which do not infiltrate into aquifers.
The health risk of use and accumulation of pesticides in the human body is further increased by the synchronous effect of nitrate and also of radioactivity (radon a.o.) in drinking water in the area west of Chernobyl !

pesticides in shallow wells; 8 k

The figure 5 above shows averages of the most important pesticides in the water of village wells, also in the region Luginy, 120 km west of the Chernobyl reactor  given in ug/L. Methodological details are described in that paper.

The max. permissible concentration for drinking water following the EC guidelines is 0,1 ug/L for each substance and 0,5 ug/L for the sum of pesticides.

There is a lot of literature available dealing with toxicity of pesticides in drinking water. The 1st publication listed below is only one example recommended to get an overview over the problem of risk assessments.


Latest news from Rachel's Democracy Health News #862 ( "Pesticides Linked to 70% Increased Risks for Parkinson's Disease A new study reconfirms earlier findings, that pesticide exposure is linked to Parkinson's disease. "


Office of Drinking Water, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (19990): Risk Assessment, Management and Communication of Drinking Water Contamination. - Seminar Publication EPA/625-4-89/024

see also:

EPA's Office of Pesticides Program

The Extension TOXicology NETwork - EXTOXNET

Beyond Pesticides

Pesticides Action Network - Pesticide Database

UNEP GEMS Water program

(back to part 1 nitrate)                                                                                                                                                                                      


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