DEET occurrence in wastewaters: Seasonal, spatial and diurnal variability - mismatches between consumption data and environmental detection

Mauricius Marques dos Santos, Christiane Hoppe-Jones, Shane Allen Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) is one of the most frequently detected trace organic contaminants (TOrC) in wastewaters and is used primarily as an insect repellent. It was introduced for use in the general public in 1957. It is ubiquitously present in the environment and DEET concentrations are usually among the highest reported for TOrCs. Due to recent concerns about possible analytical interferences in detection methods being reported, this study focused on possible artifacts caused by seasonal, spatial, and diurnal variations in wastewater influent concentration of DEET. We also compared usage data to observed wastewater concentrations of seven wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in four different regions in the US monitored from November 2014 to November 2016. Consumption data obtained reveal patterns of consumption according to climatic regions and season. During the summer DEET usage accounts for almost 60% of all usage during a year, while during the winter months DEET usage accounts for <5%. Concerning spatial distribution, while per capita consumption of DEET in Florida is three times higher than the one observed in Arizona (44 g vs 14 g), DEET concentrations in wastewater tend to be much higher in Arizona. Regardless of WWTPs or monitoring period, concentrations as high as 15,200 ng/L were observed during the month of October 2016. While DEET has a diurnal variation in the wastewater influent, with a maximum at 18:00, the diurnal variability is not enough to explain the great discrepancies between consumption of DEET versus occurrence in wastewaters. Although LC-MS/MS analysis of isobaric and structural mimics suggests some possibility of interferences, NMR spectroscopy analysis of environmental samples does not support the presence of such mimics in real samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105038
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • DEET
  • Diethyltoluamide
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Mass spectrometry
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • Wastewater-based epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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