Surface grab and core sediment samples were collected from Lakes Michigan, Superior, and Huron from 2010 to 2012, and concentrations of herbicides atrazine, simazine, and alachlor, as well as desethylatrazine (DEA), were determined. Concentrations of atrazine in surface grabs ranged from 0.01 to 1.7 ng/g dry weight and are significantly higher in the southern basin of Lake Michigan (latitude <44°) than other parts of the three lakes. The highest concentration of alachlor was found in sediments of Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron. The inventory and net fluxes of these herbicides were found to decline exponentially from the south to the north. The concentration ratio of DEA to atrazine (DEA/ATZ) increased with latitude, suggesting degradation of atrazine to DEA during atmospheric transport. DEA/ATZ also increased with sediment depth in the sediment cores. Diffusion of deposited herbicides from the upper sediment into deeper sediments has occurred, on the basis of the observed patterns of concentrations in dated sediment cores. Concentrations of atrazine in pore water were estimated and were higher than those reported for the bulk waters, suggesting the occurrence of solid-phase deposition of atrazine through the water column and that contaminated sediments act as a source releasing atrazine to the overlying water.
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© 2016 American Chemical Society.