This dissertation focused on the development and application of state-of-the-art monitoring tools and analysis methods for tracking the fate of trace level contaminants in the natural and built water environments, using fipronil as a model; fipronil and its primary degradates (known collectively as fiproles) are among a group of trace level emerging environmental contaminants that are extremely potent arthropodic neurotoxins. The work further aimed to fill in data gaps regarding the presence and fate of fipronil in engineered water systems, specifically in a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), and in an engineered wetland. A review of manual and automated “active” water sampling technologies motivated the development of two new automated samplers capable of in situ biphasic extraction of water samples across the bulk water/sediment interface of surface water systems. Combined with an optimized method for the quantification of fiproles, the newly developed In Situ Sampler for Biphasic water monitoring (IS2B) was deployed along with conventional automated water samplers, to study the fate and occurrence of fiproles in engineered water environments; continuous sampling over two days and subsequent analysis yielded average total fiprole concentrations in wetland surface water (9.9 ± 4.6 to 18.1 ± 4.6 ng/L) and wetland sediment pore water (9.1 ± 3.0 to 12.6 ± 2.1 ng/L). A mass balance of the WWTP located immediately upstream demonstrated unattenuated breakthrough of total fiproles through the WWTP with 25 ± 3 % of fipronil conversion to degradates, and only limited removal of total fiproles in the wetland (47 ± 13%). Extrapolation of local emissions (5–7 g/d) suggests nationwide annual fiprole loadings from WWTPs to U.S. surface waters on the order of about one half to three quarters of a metric tonne. The qualitative and quantitative data collected in this work have regulatory implications, and the sampling tools and analysis strategies described in this thesis have broad applicability in the assessment of risks posed by trace level environmental contaminants.
- Methods and devices for assessment of fiprole pesticides in engineered waterways