Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

William J. Doucette


William J. Doucette


Diana Cox-Foster


Laurie McNeill


Chemicals are often added to agricultural pesticide mixes to help increase the efficiency of the field spray solution, and one of the main groups of chemicals used for this purpose are trisiloxane surfactants (TSSs). Normally TSSs are considered non-toxic, but recent studies have shown TSSs to have negative impacts on organisms like honey bees. Though TSSs have recently been found in environmental sources like water, pollen, and beeswax, little is known about how TSSs behave in the environment or affects active ingredients, like pesticides.

To help determine the environmental prevalence and fate of TSSs, several studies were performed. Pollen was collected from across the United States and analyzed for TSS-H, TSS-COCH3, and TSS-CH3, where TSS-H and a TSS-COCH3 like compound were found, along with nine pesticides. The likelihood for TSSs to be found in the air, water, roots, and plants was looked at as well. TSSs were determined to not be of a great concern in the air and were rapidly degradable in water in basic or acidic conditions with half of the compound disappearing in less than two days. TSSs were also found to sorb to many different surfaces, including pollen and polypropylene, a type of commonly used plastic. Lastly, TSSs were not found to readily travel from plant root solution to the leaves and flowers. This means that overall, TSSs are not stable in the environment and are not likely to travel into pollen at significant concentrations except potentially through direct contact onto the pollen or repeat exposures to the roots or leaves.