Urban pest control insecticides—specifically fipronil and its 4 major degradates (fipronil sulfone, sulfide, desulfinyl, and amide), as well as imidacloprid—were monitored during drought conditions in 8 San Francisco Bay (San Francisco, CA, USA) wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). In influent and effluent, ubiquitous detections were obtained in units of ng/L for fipronil (13–88 ng/L), fipronil sulfone (1–28 ng/L), fipronil sulfide (1–5 ng/L), and imidacloprid (58–306 ng/L). Partitioning was also investigated; in influent, 100% of imidacloprid and 62 ± 9% of total fiproles (fipronil and degradates) were present in the dissolved state, with the balance being bound to filter-removable particulates. Targeted insecticides persisted during wastewater treatment, regardless of treatment technology utilized (imidacloprid: 93 ± 17%; total fiproles: 65 ± 11% remaining), with partitioning into sludge (3.7–151.1 μg/kg dry wt as fipronil) accounting for minor losses of total fiproles entering WWTPs. The load of total fiproles was fairly consistent across the facilities but fiprole speciation varied. This first regional study on fiprole and imidacloprid occurrences in raw and treated California sewage revealed ubiquity and marked persistence to conventional treatment of both phenylpyrazole and neonicotinoid compounds. Flea and tick control agents for pets are identified as potential sources of pesticides in sewage meriting further investigation and inclusion in chemical-specific risk assessments. Environ Toxicol Chem 2017;36:1473–1482.
- Fate and transport
- Persistant organic pollutants (POPs)
- Water quality
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis