Geographical Distribution and Pattern of Pesticides in Danish Drinking Water 2002–2018: Reducing Data Complexity

Carina Skaarup*, Kirstine Wodschow, Denitza D. Voutchkova, Jörg Schullehner, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Helle Raun Andersen, Birgitte Hansen, Annette Kjær Ersbøll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Pesticides are a large and heterogenous group of chemicals with a complex geographic distribution in the environment. The purpose of this study was to explore the geographic distribution of pesticides in Danish drinking water and identify potential patterns in the grouping of pesticides. Our data included 899,169 analyses of 167 pesticides and metabolites, of which 55 were identified above the detection limit. Pesticide patterns were defined by (1) pesticide groups based on chemical structure and pesticide–metabolite relations and (2) an exploratory factor analysis identifying underlying patterns of related pesticides within waterworks. The geographic distribution was evaluated by mapping the pesticide categories for groups and factor components, namely those detected, quantified, above quality standards, and not analysed. We identified five and seven factor components for the periods 2002–2011 and 2012–2018, respectively. In total, 16 pesticide groups were identified, of which six were representative in space and time with regards to the number of waterworks and analyses, namely benzothiazinone, benzonitriles, organophosphates, phenoxy herbicides, triazines, and triazinones. Pesticide mapping identified areas where multiple pesticides were detected, indicating areas with a higher pesticide burden. The results contribute to a better understanding of the pesticide pattern in Danish drinking water and may contribute to exposure assessments for future epidemiological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number823
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12. Jan 2022


  • Drinking water
  • Drinking water quality
  • Geographic distribution of pesticides
  • Monitoring pesticides
  • Pesticides


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