Alachlor is one of the two most commonly used herbicides in the United States. In the environment, little mineralization of this compound has been found to occur, and metabolites of alachlor may be formed and could accumulate. The objectives of this study were to determine the rate of alachlor biotransformation and to identify the transformation intermediates formed under aqueous denitrifying, methanogenic, and sulfate-reducing conditions. Second-order biotrasnformation coefficients for alachlor were determined to be 7.6 x 10-5 (± 4.0 x 10-5), 2.9 x 10-3 (± 1.6 x 10-3), and 1.5 x 10-2 (± 1.4 x 10-2) l mg VSS-1 day-1 under denitrifying, methanogenic, and sulfate-reducing conditions, respectively. Acetyl alachlor and diethyl aniline were positively identified as transformation products of alachlor under all conditions. In denitrifying reactors aniline was identified as a product of alachlor. When acetyl alachlor was fed as the parent compound, aniline was also identified as transformation product under methanogenic conditions. This research showed that although alachlor is degraded under denitrifying, methanogenic, and sulfate-reducing conditions, significant concentrations of several metabolites are formed and are only slowly degraded.
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Acknowledgements--This research was funded by the USEPA Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Dr Lynn Teesch and Diane Lamb provided assistance with the GC-MS. Craig Just assisted with instrumentation. Monsanto generously donated a sample of acetyl alachlor.