Organochlorine insecticide usage in the sugar industry of the Herbert and Burdekin River regions: chemical, biological, and risk assessments

Cavanagh, Jo-Anne Elizabeth (2000) Organochlorine insecticide usage in the sugar industry of the Herbert and Burdekin River regions: chemical, biological, and risk assessments. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

Despite widespread usage of organochlorine insecticides in the Queensland sugar industry from 1947 to 1987, there is remarkably little information on the use and environmental consequences of their usage. This thesis explores three aspects of organochlorine insecticide use in two significant sugarcane growing regions in North Queensland, the Herbert and Burdekin River regions. The first is the distribution of organochlorine insecticide residues in sugarcane soils and coastal and riverine sediments in both regions to assess the current distribution of organochlorine insecticide residues and provide information on historical inputs to coastal sediments. This information is combined with historical information regarding insecticide use in both regions to derive a mass balance for the applied insecticides. The second is the use of an enzyme assay (ethoxyresorufin 0-deethylase, EROD) to assess the exposure of a common tropical estuarine fish species, Acanthopagrus berda, to a range of organic contaminants and provide a screening tool for exposure to organochlorine insecticide residues. The third aspect is the examination of the historical factors influencing risks associated with insect control in the sugar industry, with a particular emphasis of the risks associated with organochlorine insecticide use.

Easily detectable concentrations of organochlorine insecticide residues were found in the sugarcane soils of the Herbert and Burdekin River regions and reflected known application histories. Mass balance estimates indicate that currently less than 0.01% of the 3,900 tonnes of hexachlorocyclohexane, 40 tonnes of aldrin, and 46 tonnes of heptachlor applied to sugarcane in the Herbert and Burdekin regions since 1947 is estimated to remain in the soils of these regions. Low and variable concentrations were found in farm drains and creeks adjacent to sugarcane areas, suggesting some movement of organochlorine residues from the sugarcane fields is occurring. Fish collected from creeks draining sugarcane land and land minimally disturbed by anthropogenic activity generally showed a low level of enzyme induction and a low incidence of detection of organochlorine residues in fish tissue. An exception to this was fish collected from Cromarty Creek, which drains agricultural land in the Burdekin region. These fish showed enzyme induction comparable to that in fish collected from the urban catchment. Although the identity of the inducer is unknown, a town rubbish dump and/or recreational boating activity are suspected to be the sources.

No detectable residues were found in coastal estuarine sediments of either region. Together with known sediment transport processes, this absence suggests that no contamination of the Great Barrier Reef environment as a result of historical organochlorine insecticide application in the Herbert and Burdekin Regions is occurring.

Changes in insect control techniques in the sugar industry have been influenced directly or indirectly by research, changes in farming practices and government legislation, global environmental concerns and trade events. However, in the near future, insecticide usage in the Herbert and Burdekin regions is likely to be largely driven by regional issues related to the efficacy of control.

Item ID: 27171
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: organochlorine insecticides; Queensland sugar industry; Herbert River region; Burdekin River region; insecticide residues; soils, sediments; Acanthopagrus berda; impacts; estuarine fish species; exposure risks; usage risks
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Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Appendix I: Cavanagh, J.E. (2000) Comparison of the environmental regulation of land management in the Sugar Industry under the Sugar Industry Act 1991 (Qld), the Sugar Industry Bill 1999 and the Integrated Planning Act 1997 (Qld). Environmental and Planning Law Journal, 17 (2). pp. 118-125.

Appendix I: Cavanagh, J.E., Burns, K.A., Brunskill, G.J., Ryan, D.A.J., and Ahokas, J.T. (2000) Induction of hepatic cytochrome P-450 1A in Pikey Bream (Acanthopagrus berda) collected from agricultural and urban catchments in far north Queensland. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 41 (7-12). pp. 377-384.

Appendix I: Cavanagh, J.E., Burns, K.A., Brunskill, G.J., and Coventry, R.J. (1999) Organochlorine pesticide residues in soils and sediments of the Herbert and Burdekin River regions: implications for contamination of the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 39 (1-12). pp. 367-375.

Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2013 01:09
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070199 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management not elsewhere classified @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050299 Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8299 Other Plant Production and Plant Primary Products > 829999 Plant Production and Plant Primary Products not elsewhere classified @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960402 Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 33%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 34%
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