Glyphosate: Understanding its Atmospheric Transport and Fate

Christopher Lehmann1, David A. Gay2, John W. Scott3 and Wei Zheng4

Glyphosate is a widely used agricultural chemical in the United States. It's an environmental contaminant of concern as a suspected carcinogen, although an evaluation of its health effects is ongoing. There is a need to better understand its transport and fate in the environment, particularly in sensitive ecosystems. Glyphosate is non-volatile and sorbs to soil particles.

Studies have detected it in air and rainwater samples, suggesting that its transport and fate in the atmosphere is linked to airborne particulate matter. The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) have performed limited studies to assess the transport of glyphosate in the atmosphere.

The National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) within ISWS collects rainwater and snowmelt samples at more than 300 locations across North America. Preliminary work performed at ISTC has demonstrated that glyphosate and several of its environmental decomposition products can be readily measured by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LCMS) down to 60 ng/L.


1NADP/CAL; University of Illinois,
2NADP; University of Illinois,
3Prairie Research Institute; Univ. Illinois,
4Prairie Research Institute; Univ. Illinois,