Pesticides can be present in the atmosphere either as vapours and/or in association with suspended particles. High-volume air sampling, in which air is aspirated first through a glass fibre filter to capture pesticides associated with atmospheric particulates and then polyurethane foam (PUF), often in combination with an adsorbent resin such as XAD-2, to capture pesticides present as vapours, is generally employed during atmospheric monitoring for pesticides. However, the particulate fraction may be underestimated because some pesticides may be stripped or desorbed from captured particulates due to the pressure drop created by the high flow of air through the filter. This possibility was investigated with ten herbicide active ingredients commonly used on the Canadian prairies (dimethylamine salts of 2,4-D, MCPA and dicamba, 2,4-D 2-ethylhexyl ester, bromoxynil octanoate, diclofop methyl ester, fenoxaprop ethyl ester, trifluralin, triallate and ethalfluralin) and seven hydrolysis products (2,4-D, MCPA, dicamba, bromoxynil, diclofop, clopyralid and mecoprop). Finely ground heavy clay soil fortified with active ingredients/hydrolysis products was evenly distributed on the glass fibre filters of high-volume air samplers and air aspirated through the samplers at a flow rate of 12.5 m3
/h for a 7-day period. The proportion desorbed as vapour from the fortified soil was determined by analysis of the PUF/XAD-2 resin composite cartridges. The extent of desorption from the fortified soil applied to the filters varied from 0% for each of the dimethylamine salts of 2,4-D, MCPA and dicamba to approximately 50% for trifluralin, triallate and ethalfluralin.