25/06/2018 3 mins

Launch of the national exploratory measurement campaign for pesticide residues in air

ANSES, INERIS and the network of approved air quality monitoring associations (AASQAs) coordinated by ATMO France are today launching a campaign to measure pesticide residues in air. This first national campaign aims to improve knowledge of the pesticides found in ambient air and thus gain a better understanding of the exposure of the French population. This campaign will ultimately be used to define a surveillance strategy for pesticides in air.

Establishing national-level surveillance of pesticide residues in air is a priority defined in the framework of the Government's action plan on plant protection products and the 2017-2021 national plan for the reduction of atmospheric pollutant emissions (PREPA). In an expert appraisal report published in October 2017, following a formal request by the Ministries of Agriculture, Ecology, Health and Labour, ANSES made recommendations on how to implement and conduct an exploratory campaign with a view to achieving this surveillance. In light of these recommendations, a partnership was established between ANSES, INERIS and the ATMO France Federation to define and carry out this campaign. It is being conducted within the framework of the phytopharmacovigilance scheme run by ANSES.

Testing for 80 active substances at 50 sampling sites

This one-year exploratory campaign will include the analysis of around 80 substances at 50 different measurement sites in metropolitan France and the French overseas territories, leading to a total of around 1500 samples over the duration of the campaign.

The distribution of the sampling sites was chosen to take account of the different types of residential areas (52% urban/suburban and 48% rural sites) and agricultural production areas (40% arable farming, 22% wine-growing, 22% tree-growing, 14% market gardening and 6% livestock sites). Between one and six sites per region were therefore selected to cover the different situations of exposure to pesticides in air.

The targeted substances are used in plant protection products as well as in certain biocides, veterinary medicinal products and antiparasitics for human use. They were prioritised by ANSES on the basis of their hazard characteristics and criteria for use, emission and persistence in air.

To conduct this campaign, a harmonised measurement protocol for the entire country, funded by the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB) under the Ecophyto plan,was defined on the basis of ANSES's recommendations and metrological validation by INERIS as part of its work for the Central Laboratory for Air Quality Monitoring (LCSQA), in conjunction with the approved air quality monitoring associations (AASQAs) ATMO Grand Est and Air PACA. Co-financing for the sampling systems needed for the campaign was also provided by the Ministry of Ecology.

An ANSES/INERIS/ATMO France cooperation

The AASQAs, coordinated by ATMO France, will be conducting the sampling in the field and using their regional expertise to roll out the campaign at the local level. As the campaign coordinator, INERIS will provide the necessary technical support for the measurements, manage the analysis of the samples and exploit the data with the help of the various partners. ANSES is offering scientific support and funding for this campaign.

This exploratory campaign, the first of its kind to be conducted on a national scale, will be used to define the terms of a long-term national strategy for monitoring pesticide residues in ambient air. The data collected will be added to the national air quality database "GEOD'AIR" and will help establish an overview of pesticide residue levels in ambient air.

This overview is necessary for making comparisons with the data collected through specific studies, aimed at assessing the exposure of populations living near pesticide emission sources, in particular the forthcoming study on exposure to pesticides of residents in agricultural areas, soon to be carried out by ANSES and the French Public Health Agency (SPF).

This work is being funded by, and falls within the framework of, the phytopharmacovigilance scheme set up by ANSES in 2015, whose purpose is to monitor the adverse effects of plant protection products.