Agronomy Research Expertise in Montpellier and Languedoc-Roussillon (South of France)

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

Keywords :

Persistent soil pollution and health safety of horticultural pesticides–a case study of chlordecone in the West Indies

4. Preserving water resources

4. Preserving water resources

View of the elementary catchment of Féfé, Guadeloupe © J.B. Charlier Chlordecone is an organochlorine pesticide that was used from 1971 to 1993 in the West Indies. This molecule is stable and continues to persist in the environment, resulting in chronic contamination of the environment and certain crops. Little is known about the dispersion mechanisms of this pesticide, which is highly adsorbed on soils with elevated organic matter contents under humid tropical climatic conditions. The first part of this study deals with factors determining the release of the molecule in the soil profile and its transfer into groundwater. Chlordecone adsorption and desorption have been analysed for different types of soil according to the quality of their organic matter contents and characteristics of the mineral phase. The intensity and dynamics of chlordecone migration into groundwater were modelled according to the soil properties and climatic events.

The second part of the study investigates key factors in the contamination of rivers on a catchment scale. In Guadeloupe, in situ measurements (rainfall, river flow, piezometry) define the hydrological functioning of elementary and resource catchments. These are complemented by the analysis of soil pollution and pollutant monitoring in water resources (groundwater and rivers). Pollutant transfer pathways and dynamics will be simulated by modelling. Finally, transfer of the molecule from the soil into crops is measured on different scales in order to gain further insight into the pathways and factors responsible for such transfers within plants. Data integration has led to the development of management tools to predict health risks and identify the main areas of origin of this pollution, and changes in the pollution pressure over time. They enhance environmental management by all stakeholders in the region, thus reducing exposure risks for inhabitants. These studies are being carried out by the CIRAD research units HortSys and Banana, Plantain and Pineapple Cropping Systems, INRA Guadeloupe, UMR LISAH, IRD Martinique and the Agrosphere Institute (Jülich, Germany), within the framework of the French Plan National Chlordécone et de Chlordexco (Contaminants, Écosystème, Santé project of the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche, France).


Magalie Jannoyer,
Philippe Cattan,
& Marc Voltz,

Publication date: 30/05/2010




Update on 19/04/12


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