It is important to understand the degradation and persistence of pesticides in soil and water in order to maximize pesticide efficacy while minimizing any detrimental effects they may have on the ecosystem. Degradation and persistence of pesticides can be affected by a wide variety of factors including properties of the pesticides (water solubility, volatility, polarity), properties of the soil or water (pH, temperature, soil composition), and resistance to degradation (biological, chemical, photo).
The lab has an extensive history of studying the degradation and persistence of pesticides in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Though much of the research has focused on conventional herbicides, such as atrazine and metolachlor, the fate of natural insecticides, like thymol, has also been studied.
Some relevant publications:
Hu, Dingfei, Keri Henderson, and Joel Coats. 2009. Fate of transformation products of synthetic chemicals. Chapter in The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, vol. 2, Part P. Alistair Boxall, editor, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany. pp. 103-120.
Hu, Dingfei, and Joel Coats. 2008. Evaluation of the environmental fate of thymol and phenethyl propionate in the laboratory. 2008. Pest Manag. Sci. 64: 775-779.
Rice, P.J., T.A. Anderson, and J.R. Coats. 2004. Effect of sediment on the fate of metolachlor and atrazine in surface water. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 23: 1145-1155.
Coats, J.R. and H. Yamamoto, Editors. 2003. Environmental Fate and Effects of Pesticides. American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C., 300 pp.
Arthur, E.L., B.S. Perkovich, T.A. Anderson, J.R. Coats. 2000. Degradation of an atrazine and metolachlor herbicide mixture in pesticide-contaminated soils from two agrochemical dealerships in Iowa. Water Air Soil Pollut. 119: 75-90.