Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, Bern

Pesticides risk assessment for aquatic ecosystem

The analyse of environmental risks aims to protect water, soils and the air so that the organisms living in these ecosystems do not suffer an unacceptable level of damage. To analyse the effects of plant protection substances in rivers and streams, studies focus on typical small waters adjacent to farmland. Risk assessment is based on an estimation of the exposure and on various ecotoxicological data. In order to estimate the toxicity of a plant protection substance, its effects on individuals, populations and communities are investigated so that both short and long-term consequences of an exposure can be determined. Risk analyses are essential for decisions concerning environmental management, since a compilation of environmental relevant informations can lead to the identification of potential risks and to the development of strategies to avoid damage to the environment. There are many ways of keeping risks to an acceptable minimum. By introducing compulsory practical conditions for specific plant protection substances, like the utilisation at an obligatory distance from surface waters, or the compulsory use of technology to prevent spread, it will still be possible to use such substances in agriculture while unwanted effects on aquatic organisms are largely avoided.

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