Over the past 70 years, thousands of pesticides have been used worldwide to increase agricultural production. Agricultural intensification has led to higher yields, but what are the effects? Systematic programs for monitoring pesticide residues in ecosystems have been established only for water and plants, and only scattered information is available on residues in soil, sediment, air, indoor dust, and the human body. .
A session of the SPRINT project at the Science Summit of the UN General Assembly in New York on 27 September 2023 will provide important new knowledge to solve the urgent question of pesticide risk reduction as a basis for the transition to sustainable agriculture.
SPRINT is the first effort across Europe, extended to Argentina as an important feed exporter, to monitor the actual patterns of pesticide use and the resulting distribution of pesticide residues. in all central cropping systems. At the UN Science Summit, the initial results of a monitoring campaign will be presented from the growing season 2021, based on the analysis of about 600 samples of all soil, plants, surface water, sediment, air and indoor dust and urine and fecal samples from about 700 people.
SPRINT focuses on more than 200 active substances of synthetic pesticides and their metabolites from products that are either approved, replacement candidates or currently banned in the EU. The distribution of pesticide residues in different environments is linked to the hazardous properties of pesticide residues for ecosystems and human health. Laboratory tests also identify impacts on ecosystems and human health.
Key findings from the monitoring campaign
- Pesticide residue compounds are ubiquitous in all ecosystems and people; the presence of mixtures is the new normal.
- In more than 90% of human urine and fecal samples, residues were found, with a maximum of 20 different types.
- Standards for pesticide mixtures in humans, soil, sediment, air and indoor dust are not yet included in the regulations.
- 38% of European surface water bodies exceed drinking water quality benchmarks.
- 96% of the soils sampled under conventional farming contained pesticide mixtures with a maximum of 20 residues.
- 79% of the soils under organic farming also contain compounds.
- Most pesticide residues found in soils and water are classified as dangerous for worms or fish.
- More than 90 different pesticides and pesticide metabolites were detected in the air of two agricultural areas in Europe.
In crops and fields
- More than 40% of the plants contained compounds with a maximum of 20 residues per sample. The maximum residue level (MRL) for a residue is usually not exceeded, but there is no MRL for mixtures.
- Ecosystems connected to organic farms contain small residues but often mixtures of mostly prohibited pesticide residues from previous applications.
- The highest accumulation of pesticide residues was found in the dust content of farm houses, with up to 121 different residues per sample in conventional farm houses and more than 80 in organic farm houses. .
- More than 30% of the residues found in dust content are classified as carcinogenic, with more than 60% potentially affecting reproductive development.
Before the Science Summit, Violette Geissen, the project leader, said, “Our research shows how widespread these pesticide residues are in our homes, bodies and ecosystems. for the frequency and level of use of pesticides that may be included in future regulations. With the EU’s strong commitment to regulation and human safety, we are confident that our new data will help inform decision-makers as they work towards the goals of EU policy of 50 % reduction in the use and risk of pesticides.”
Presented by ISC Intelligence in Science
Citation: Project reveals extent of pesticide residues in ecosystems and people across Europe and Argentina (2023, July 17) retrieved on July 17, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023- 07-reveals-extent-pesticide-residues-ecosystems. html
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