A preliminary study of the content and distribution of pesticide residues in soil samples from the Kathmandu valley, Nepal .


The increasing use of pesticides for agricultural production is causing soil pollution problems in different parts of Nepal. Uncontaminated agricultural soils are of great importance as they have a direct impact on food security and human health. The objective of this study was to investigate the quality and quantity of pesticides in soil samples from districts near the capital city of Kathmandu, from where fruit and vegetables are brought to the city for consumption. A questionnaire survey was carried out in four districts around Kathmandu city to investigate the types of pesticides that are most commonly used in these districts. A total of 15 soil samples were taken at a depth of 10 cm and four complete soil profiles were sampled at three different depths (10 cm, 30 cm and 50 cm) on the farms of those who were interviewed. A total of four replicates of each soil sample were extracted and analyzed. The pH, soil texture and organic carbon content of the soil samples were analyzed to understand the general soil characteristics. The QuEChERS method used for the analysis of food samples was modified and applied to the soil samples. An HPLC-MS/MS was used for the qualification and quantification of the pesticide residues in the soil samples. The questionnaire survey revealed that carbendazim, chlorpyrifos-methyl, parathion-methyl, imidacloprid, metalaxyl, dimethoate, omethoate and dichlorvos were the most commonly used pesticides in the area studied. The chemical analysis showed that soil samples from all the districts except Kathmandu city were contaminated with various pesticides. The soil samples collected at the depth of 10 cm were found to be contaminated with the fungicide carbendazim and the insecticide chlorpyrifos-methyl at rates of up to 0.038 mg kg-1 and the systemic insecticide imidacloprid was found at up to 0.016 mg kg-1. The study of soil samples taken at different depths (10 cm, 30 cm and 50 cm) showed that pesticides were homogenously distributed with soil depth. The recovery between 77.5-112%, linearity between 0.01 mg kg-l - 2 mg kg-l with correlation factors R2 higher than 0.99 and LOQ between 0.2 µg kg-1- 6.25 µg kg-l were found. Some samples were contaminated with parathion-methyl, a highly carcinogenic organophosphorous insecticide, even though these pesticides had already been banned. For the first time, this study provides information about soil contamination levels due to pesticides in Central Nepal and shows that further research and information campaigns for farmers are necessary.
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