AbstractSoils which have been pretreated with carbofuran can degrade the insecticide more rapidly than untreated soils, with a consequent loss of efficacy. In laboratory studies, soils pretreated with carbofuran were found to degrade the chemical more rapidly than soils which were not so pretreated. When pretreated soils were sterilised, the rate of carbofuran degradation was much reduced, indicating that most of it was due to microbial action. Incubation of pretreated soil with [phenyl‐U‐14C]carbofuran led to the rapid disappearance of the parent compound (3 % left after seven days). Most of the 14C was accounted for as bound residue after seven days, whilst smaller amounts were recovered as carbon dioxide, 3‐hydroxycarbofuran, 3‐ketocarbofuran, and an unknown metabolite. Incubation of pretreated soil with [carbonyl‐14C]carbofuran led to rapid loss of the parent compound and the recovery of 73% of 14C as carbon dioxide by five days.Most of the bound 14C (>90%) arising from [phenyl‐U‐14C]carbofuran treatment of pretreated soil was extracted by 1 M sodium hydroxide and about half of the extracted 14C was precipitated with ‘humic acids’ after acidification. These and other results suggest that the major metabolic route for carbofuran in pretreated soils involves hydrolysis of the ester bond leading to (1) release of carbofuran phenol which rapidly binds to soil organic matter and, (2) release of the carbonyl moiety which quickly degrades to generate carbon dioxide.

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