Assessment of occupational and dietary exposure to pesticide residues

plant protection products, residue exposure, re-entry interval, dermal absorption, dietaryrisk assessment, maximum residue level
First published in the EFSA Journal
27. August 2018
6. Juli 2018
Special Issue

This report is funded by EFSA as part of the EU‐FORA programme.

Note: The full opinion will be published in accordance with article 8(6) of Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 once the decision on confidentiality, in line with article 18(2) of the Regulation, will be received from the European Commission.


Plant protection products (PPPs) are pesticides containing at least one active substance that drives specific actions against pests (diseases). PPPs are regulated in the EU and cannot be placed on the market or used without prior authorisation. EFSA assesses the possible risks of the use of active substances to humans and environment. Member States decide whether or not to approve their use at EU level. Furthermore, Member States decide at national level on the authorisation of PPPs containing approved substances. In agriculture, exposure to PPPs and their residues during occupational tasks is estimated prior to product authorisation, using models fed with study‐specific (e.g. absorption, dissipation) and default values. Exposure of workers to pesticide residues reduces with the pesticide's dissipation time during crop‐related tasks. However, the current risk assessment gap is that no methodology is available to calculate the re‐entry interval (REI) for workers, which specifies how long they should wear personal protective clothing during their first entry into pesticide‐sprayed crops. Protective clothing (such as gloves) can reduce pesticide residue exposure to an acceptable level of worker safety. Within the European Food Risk Assessment Fellowship Programme (EU‐FORA) assignment, a methodology was developed to calculate agricultural‐use‐specific and pesticide‐specific REIs for which period workers should wear gloves. This was an assignment of the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. Another important aspect of risk assessment to ensure consumer safety is dietary risk assessment. A critical evaluation of residue studies and metabolism of the pesticide in question in crops results in a residue definition for dietary risk assessment and for enforcement and monitoring to define maximum residue limits allowed legally on or in raw agricultural commodities when applying pesticides according to good agricultural practices. This work was assigned by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and contributes to the work of the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues.

eu-fora [at]
EFSA Journal 2018;16(S1):e16087