Large quantities of pesticides are used every year by farmers, horticulturists, park and garden maintenance contractors, public transport and other sectors. Individuals also have access to various pesticides used in gardens and homes. Pesticides are therefore present everywhere in the environment and in living spaces, and people are exposed to them by consuming contaminated water and food, by inhalation and by skin contact when using pesticides or from contact with contaminated surfaces.
Since the nineteen-eighties several scientific studies have linked pesticide exposure to serious health effects such as cancer, neurological disorders, impacts on reproductive functions and development, and endocrine disruption.
Water and food are regularly tested in Wallonia. Pesticide concentrations, on the other hand, are not measured in the region’s ambient air (outdoor and indoor). However, studies carried out in North America and some European countries (France, Spain, Luxembourg and others) have revealed the presence of pesticides in the ambient air, both in towns and in the countryside and in outdoor and indoor air.
This project is fully in line with:
- Directive 2009/128/EC establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides;
- Action area 4.1 of the Walloon Pesticide Reduction Plan (WPRP, 2013), which recommends “developing knowledge of the external/internal exposure of groups at risk through their work activities, the work activities of their family members and their living environment, and the chronic effects of such exposure”.
The overall aim of the EXPOPESTEN project is to develop a multidisciplinary approach to contribute to understanding environmental (non-food) exposure and the risks associated with exposure of people in Wallonia to pesticides.
The overall aim breaks down into two specific aims:
The first specific aim is to assess human exposure to pesticides by inhalation at regional level in Wallonia. This first aim is a regional approach to exposure based on pesticide measurements in the outdoor air. The ambient air is sampled over 14-day periods at 12 sampling stations throughout Wallonia. These sampling stations are situated near agricultural areas, in urban environments, in places of ‘zero’ pesticide use, and so on. From the results of the ambient air pesticide concentration measurements it will be possible to determine the average exposure, in terms of quantity and quality, of urban and rural populations to pesticides over a whole year.
The second specific aim is to compare environmental and global pesticide exposure in two child populations, one living in a rural area at a distance from agricultural spreading areas and the other living in a geographical area where agricultural spreading is frequent. This latter aim is a local approach directed at determining the exposure more accurately. The pesticides analysed will depend on the results of the first phase. Environmental exposure by inhalation will be assessed on the basis of measurements made in the outdoor air and in the children’s living spaces. More specific measurements of individual exposure may also be made (exposure to pesticides by skin contact by pesticide determination on children’s hands, indoor dust via vacuum cleaner dust, etc.). Data will also be collected with the aid of questionnaires designed to record the sources, durations and personal exposure frequencies for each child. Lastly, overall indoor exposure will be measured using exposure biomarkers.
This project will provide answers concerning the average exposure, in terms of quantity and quality, of urban and rural populations to pesticides, exposure variations in time and space, the level of child exposure to environmental pesticides, exposure levels in local people in contrasting environments (close to / at a distance from agricultural spreading) and the risks associated with such exposure.
The airborne pesticides for analysis were selected according to a number of criteria: probability of occurrence in the ambient air on the basis of their physicochemical properties (volatility), use (quantities sold and used, areas treated, types of crops, etc.), acute and chronic toxicity, environmental presence (detection in various studies, concentrations detected, methods available, etc.).
The sampling and chromatographic analysis methods were developed by ISSeP and CRA-W for determination of 26 pesticides by LC-MS/S and 25 pesticides by GC-MS/MS, respectively.
Air sampling began in June 2015 and sample analysis is in progress.
CRA-W is carrying out part of Work Package 3 (WP3) of the project, which involves developing and validating a GC-MS/MS multi-residue analysis method and analysing 26 pesticides in 230 air samples collected in Wallonia. CRA-W is also involved in Work Package 5 (WP5), which comprises an assessment of pesticide exposure in two populations in contrasting exposure areas via pesticide analysis in environmental matrices. CRA-W is also contributing its expertise in the fields of physicochemical and toxicological properties and pesticide use and certification.
- Institut Scientifique de Service Publique (ISSeP).
- University of Liège (ULg) – Toxicology Department.
- Regional Phyto Committee.
CRAW off coordinatorArnaud Giusti Suzanne Remy Institut Scientifique de Service Public (ISSeP) Chronic Risks Division Environment and Health Unit Rue du Chéra, 200 B-4000 Liège BELGIUM Tel. +32 (0)4 229 83 87 Fax +32 (0)4 252 46 65 E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
- CRA-W - Moerman funds