The Pesticide Detectives: national assessment of pesticides in waters

The Pesticide Detectives is an extensive national Citizen Science project investigating the occurrence and concentrations of pesticides used in homes and gardens as well as agricultural and urban settings in Australia’s waterways.

Funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Pesticide Detectives is a collaborative project combining the scientific expertise of RMIT University’s Aquatic Environmental Stress Research Group (AQUEST) scientists and Citizen Science volunteers in the collection of sediment samples from waterways across Australia.

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Participants wanted for online survey!

Do you use fly spray, weed killers, mosquito repellent, antibacterial soap, flea treatments on pets and other products in your home and garden to get rid of pests? Take part in our anonymous survey and contribute to scientific research!

The Aquatic Environmental Stress Research Group (AQUEST) is conducting an anonymous online survey called Pesticide use in Australian homes and gardens.

This is an exciting opportunity to participate in a national citizen science project funded by the Australian Government.

The survey is anonymous and voluntary.

By participating, you contribute to scientific research and learn about the common products used in households and gardens in Australia.

Results of the survey will be available on this page

Contact for queries.

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Australia’s waterways have intrinsic ecological, economic and social value. Information on the quality of Australia’s water resources is of critical interest to local, state and federal agencies as water quality is integrally linked to the long-term availability of clean water. Of primary concern is the ever-increasing use of chemicals in our everyday life, and the risks they pose to the health and beneficial uses of waterways.

Pesticides are one group of contaminants increasingly being detected in waterways across Australia and worldwide. There are thousands of different pesticides in use today in and around houses, shops, offices, storerooms, sheds gardens, farms, pastoral stations and many other places. Pesticides are designed to be toxic to the pests they target - whether they be insect, weed or other unwanted home, garden or agricultural invader.

When used properly, pesticides can protect your plants, home, or animals. However, when the label instructions are not followed correctly, plant injury may occur and pests may not be controlled. Furthermore, human health may be impaired, and pesticides may contribute to the pollution of aquatic environments.

Feedback submission

Have you particpated in a sample collection for Pesticide Detectives and have feedback for us? Please submit your feedback through the Pesticide Detectives Participation Feedback Form. Your feedback is very much appreciated and will help us improve the next round of Pesticide Detectives.

National Assessment of Pesticides in Waters - Results

Visit for results.

Want to be a Pesticide Detective?

Pesticide Detective volunteers play an important role in the collection of reliable and representative environmental samples for pesticide analysis and in completing site assessments. Drop us a message for contacts to a local group.

As a member of a participating group:

  • You will visit selected sites during pesticide sampling blitzes and learn to collect sediment and/or soil samples for environmental testing.
  • You will learn to make site observations about environmental waterway condition and surrounding land-use.
  • You'll be encouraged to participate in and promote online surveys of pesticide use in and around homes.

Contact us

Are you a citizen science or a waterway group wanting to get involved? Need additional information or have a question or comment?

Please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible or email us at

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer