Scientific activities > Agents > Pesticide residues
French Observatory for Pesticide Residues (ORP)
Under the very commonly used generic term pesticides, there are traditionally three main types of substances corresponding to three different agricultural uses: herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Each of these substance types includes a large number of different chemical categories (triazines, carbamates, ureas, organic phosphorated compounds, pyrethrinoids, etc.) with varied properties and means of action.
France is the third most frequent consumer of pesticides worldwide and the leading European user, ahead of Germany (80,000 tonnes of active substances sold in 2002), even if sales have been falling since 2000. The ORP aims to
centralise currently available data on these residues and make it public
suggest measures to the ministries concerned to improve knowledge on the contamination level in the environment and to assess average exposure levels of the population to pesticides
implement these measures after approval by the ministries
All information on the ORP's actions are available to the public on the website: www.observatoire-pesticides.gouv.fr
. Action plan 2006-2008
Prepared by Afsset on the basis of the priority actions identified in the feasibility study (published in 2004), this plan contains 22 actions grouped into 3 main themes:
I - Find out about the molecules used and uses with a view to drawing up a list of substances to monitor as a priority. The objective of this theme is to establish, through a variety of approaches, a list of molecules to monitor as a priority in all types of environment, so as to assess general population exposure to pesticides. The criteria considered are volumes sold and uses, the probability of these molecules contaminating environments or foodstuffs and the human health or environmental risks of these components.
Ten actions have been proposed under this theme.
II - Assess population exposure by reinforcing complementary studies and/or launching new research. The objective of this theme is to assess exposure of the general population to pesticides, using measurements of environmental and foodstuff contamination levels. Seven actions have been identified.
III - Facilitate access to data and encourage discussion. This theme has two objectives. The first is to make assessment studies of population exposure to pesticides accessible, and the second is to organise discussions nationwide on the measurement of population exposure to pesticides.
Five actions have been proposed to meet these two objectives. Review 2006
Implementation of the action plan 2006-2008 is well under way. 2007 should see several major projects materialising.
The action budget already committed represents 2,570,900 euros, including 2,109,600 euros committed by Afsset in its budget for the ORP.
The website www.observatoire-pesticides.gouv.fr
, put online on 28 June 2006, receives almost 3,500 visitors a month.
Afsset has set up a scientific forecast and steering committee at the ORP whose main remit is to constitute a community of bodies and experts on pesticide themes, which will encourage synergies. The first meeting took place on 17 November 2006, gathering 22 organisations. The necessity of such a structure was widely agreed upon.
A document will be drawn up to present the action plan 2006-2008 in a precise manner, as well as datasheets per action. These documents will be put online on the ORP website.
A solicited request was sent jointly to Afsse, Afssa and Ifen in November 2003 to conduct a feasibility study for constituting the Observatoire des résidus des pesticides (ORP).
A work plan for 2004/2005 was proposed to the funding ministries. The actions recommended had to improve knowledge about the contamination level of environments for the general population and enable assessment of average exposure levels of the population to pesticides. In particular, it contained a website devoted to consultation by the public and implementation of a number of studies on knowledge about uses or organisation of measures.
In December 2005, the Directorate General for Health; Directorate General for Food; Directorate for Water and Directorate General for Fair Trading, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control entrusted Afsset with the technical and scientific coordination of the ORP.
One of the ORP's main priorities is to assess professional exposure levels of applicators. General points & contextual elements
The French Observatory for Pesticide Residues (ORP) goes back a long way. It dates back to October 2001 when, following a National Health and Safety Committee entirely devoted to pesticides, "a key issue for society", the creation of an Observatoire des Résidus de Pesticides was announced by the French ministries in charge of health, agriculture, the environment and consumer affairs, based on different reports and evidence of the presence of numerous residues in surface water and groundwater.
The ORP falls within the scope of Action 36 (Organise the use of existing data to estimate population exposure to pesticides) and Action 40 (Animate a monitoring network in health-environment to back up prevention and precaution policies) of the national health and environment plan (PNSE). This observatory must enable information on the presence of pesticides in various environments to be gathered, analysed and enhanced with a view to characterising pesticide exposure of the general population and ecosystems and to improving public information, coordinating administrative surveillance plans and to facilitating risk assessment and scientific research in the health field. Working method
The ORP has a steering committee made up of administrations: Directorate General for Health; Directorate General for Food; Directorate for Water and the Directorate General for Fair Trading, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control.
This organisation provided the framework in which an initial exploratory study (2004) was carried out by a technical unit comprising Afssa, Afsset and Ifen.
Since December 2005, the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Afsset) has been overseeing the scientific and technical coordination of the French Observatory for Pesticide Residues.
In the coming weeks, Afsset will set up a Scientific and Technical Committee whose remit will entail:
the preparation and validation of the annual work programme,
the identification of gaps and studies to carry out to provide information on population exposure to pesticide residues,
This committee will gather representatives of some twenty research bodies involved in pesticide themes.
In November 2003, the Ministries in charge of Health, Agriculture, Consumer Affairs and the Environment asked Afssa, Afsse and Ifen to implement a feasibility study on the establishment of the French Observatory for Pesticide Residues (ORP). Three key objectives were defined:
1- Identify the indirect or theoretical exposure indicators and define the surveillance priorities. Two approaches will be used, the first based on calculating maximum theoretical daily intakes (MTDIs) using maximum residue limits (MRLs) in water and foodstuffs, and the second based on the sales volume compared with the daily admissible intake (DAI).
2- Study exposure (through water and foodstuffs) in a more realistic way for 8 selected substances.
3- Study interconnection conditions for databases nationwide. This work, published in September 2004, led to the recommendation of an action plan to the ORP Steering Committee for the period 2005-2006: Actions 1 and 2: Continue discussions on the choice of molecules to monitor as a priority
need for access to quantities sold each year and to market trends,
need for access to toxicological data (approval file but also anti-poison and toxic monitoring centre alerts, Mutualité Sociale Agricole, etc.)
this information must be compared with the MTDIs Action 3: Find out the contamination levels of "orphan" environments through sampling plans ensuring good representativeness in space and time
indoor air contamination,
soil contamination, Action 4: Improve the quality of information gathered by administrations
optimise foodstuff control and surveillance plans for prioritised substances,
optimise analytical techniques: performances, uncertainties, quality initiative, etc.
integrate pesticides into the Total Diet Study Action 5: Develop our knowledge of uses (agricultural and non-agricultural) and behaviours
optimise the value of usage surveys and assess additional needs
find out about non-agricultural uses and household uses Action 6: Facilitate access to databases and their interoperability
direct access to databases has not been planned, even less so their interoperability,
access to these bases will stem from an administrative decision and technical developments allowing this access.
Three key projects have been launched:
1- the establishment of a partnership with the UIPP to find out exact details about data concerning pesticide sales per active substance. And assess changes in the use of these substances over recent years,
2- the study of data gathered by the BVA Institute (Institute of Market Studies and Opinions) on pesticide use by market gardeners in 2003, conducted by Afssa.
3- the development of a website for the general public, the first tool of the "ORP" system to guarantee permanently available information, put online in June 2006: www.observatoire-pesticides.gouv.fr