Pesticides in Kenya: Field, Mapping and Laboratory Studies
Dr. Clare Muhoro (Chemistry), Jeremy Monn (Center for Geographic Information Systems) & Dr. Jane Murungi (Kenyatta University, Nairobi)
This research focuses on the environmental fate of a popular family of pesticides,
the N-methylcarbamates (NMCs), used globally as potent insecticides. The ultimate goal of this
study is to design suitable remediation technologies for contaminated surface water in tropical
environments. We plan to achieve this aim by characterizing local aquatic systems in a
representative study area, determining the identity of pesticides used and patterns of their
application, and investigating the chemical fate of these compounds under field conditions. This
information will permit rational design of decontamination protocols.
Our interest lies in understanding what
happens to pesticides when they end up in surface water, a crucial resource for life on the planet.
This proposal is inspired by the idea that interdisciplinary researchers can provide new insight
into pesticide fate under real-world conditions, resulting in the emergence of new technologies
for environmental remediation. Our approach is unique, interdisciplinary and international, and
we plan to: a) record parameters describing water quality of our case study the Ruiru River in
Kenya; b) simulate environmental conditions in the lab using field data to study the chemical
behavior of pesticides under these conditions; c) develop cheap methods to decontaminate water
of known pollutants; d) use geographic information systems (GIS) technology to represent the
chemical topography of aquatic systems in an effort to understand how local environments
dictate the chemical behavior of pesticides; e) liaison with the UNEP to better understand global
policy on persistent organic pollutant (POPs) management.
Impact on Students
One graduate student (Bao Ha) and one undergraduate student (Leili Zamini) are collaborating on the project. During Winter 2013, these students discovered a specific binding interaction with some of the pesticide by-products. The implication of this discovery is that a simple method for specifically detecting at least two of these persistent organic pollutants can be developed.
Relative Stability of Formamidine and Carbamate Groups in the Bifunctional Pesticide Formetanate Hydrochloride Christopher B. Divito , Shawn Davies , Solmaz Masoudi, and Clare N. Muhoro, J. Agric. Food Chem., 2007, 55 (14), pp 5377–5382. DOI: 10.1021/jf0637527.