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Due to a growing population and an increasing demand for food, many farmers have turned to pesticides as a form of pest control. Nonylphenol ethoxylates, a common surfactant, account for 10% by weight of many pesticides. These compounds undergo bacterial degradation leading to the formation of nonylphenol, an endocrine disrupting chemical that can be absorbed into the human body. The isomer known as 4-nonylphenol (4-NP), which mimics 17-beta estradiol or estrogen, has been linked in high concentrations to the proliferation of pre-existing breast cancer cells. This study focuses on the determination of 4-NP in Californian watersheds and atmospheric deposition samples using gas chromatography mass spectroscopy (GC-MS). The results of this study were then to investigate a correlation between the occurrence of 4-NP in the environment and various environmental factors. 4-NP concentrations were found ubiquitously in the environment; however, it was clear that location as well as many other factors such as local geography, wind patterns, pesticide usage of an area, recent history clean-up efforts, and general distance from an agricultural density center need to be considered when determining the risk of exposure for an area to this compound. The average concentration of 4-NP measured in the 5 locations of interest was approximately 4.58 µg/L.


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