Collection of human and environmental data on pesticide use in Europe and Argentina: Field study protocol for the SPRINT project.
Current farm systems rely on the use of Plant Protection Products (PPP) to secure high productivity and control threats to the quality of the crops. However, PPP use may have considerable impacts on human health and the environment. A study protocol is presented aiming to determine the occurrence and levels of PPP residues in plants (crops), animals (livestock), humans and other non-target species (ecosystem representatives) for exposure modelling and impact assessment. To achieve this, we designed a cross-sectional study to compare conventional and organic farm systems across Europe. Environmental and biological samples were/are being/will be collected during the 2021 growing season, at 10 case study sites in Europe covering a range of climate zones and crops. An additional study site in Argentina will inform the impact of PPP use on growing soybean which is an important European protein-source in animal feed. We will study the impact of PPP mixtures using an integrated risk assessment methodology. The fate of PPP in environmental media (soil, water and air) and in the homes of farmers will be monitored. This will be complemented by biomonitoring to estimate PPP uptake by humans and farm animals (cow, goat, sheep and chicken), and by collection of samples from non-target species (earthworms, fish, aquatic and terrestrial macroinvertebrates, bats, and farm cats). We will use data on PPP residues in environmental and biological matrices to estimate exposures by modelling. These exposure estimates together with health and toxicity data will be used to predict the impact of PPP use on environment, plant, animal and human health. The outcome of this study will then be integrated with socio-economic information leading to an overall assessment used to identify transition pathways towards more sustainable plant protection and inform decision makers, practitioners and other stakeholders regarding farming practices and land use policy.
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