Agrochemicals in freshwater systems and their potential as endocrine disrupting chemicals: A South African context


South Africa is the largest agrochemical user in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 3000 registered pesticide products. Although they reduce crop losses, these chemicals reach non-target aquatic environments via leaching, spray drift or run-off. In this review, attention is paid to legacy and current-use pesticides reported in literature for the freshwater environment of South Africa and to the extent these are linked to endocrine disruption. Although banned, residues of many legacy organochlorine pesticides (endosulfan and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)) are still detected in South African watercourses and wildlife. Several current-use pesticides (triazine herbicides, glyphosate-based herbicides, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and chlorpyrifos) have also been reported. Agrochemicals can interfere with normal hormone function of non-target organism leading to various endocrine disrupting (ED) effects: intersex, reduced spermatogenesis, asymmetric urogenital papillae, testicular lesions and infertile eggs. Although studies investigating the occurrence of agrochemicals and/or ED effects in freshwater aquatic environments in South Africa have increased, few studies determined both the levels of agricultural pesticides present and associated ED effects. The majority of studies conducted are either laboratory-based employing in vitro or in vivo bioassays to determine ED effects of agrochemicals or studies that investigate environmental concentrations of pesticides. However, a combined approach of bioassays and chemical screening will provide a more comprehensive overview of agrochemical pollution of water systems in South Africa and the risks associated with long-term chronic exposure.

Authors: Ilzé Horak, Suranie Horn, Rialet Pieters
; Full Source: Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) 2020 Sep 24;268(Pt A):115718. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115718.