The EU environment agency on Wednesday urged member states to reduce pesticide usage over concern that sales of harmful chemicals remain strong despite its effects on human health and biodiversity.
The warning comes amid findings that one or more pesticides were detected above thresholds of concern at 22 percent of all monitoring sites in rivers and lakes across Europe in 2020, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said.
“From 2011 to 2020, pesticide sales in the EU-27 remained relatively stable at around 350,000 tonnes per year,” the EEA said in a new report, citing data from Eurostat.
Pesticides are widely used in the agriculture sector but also in forestry, along roads and railways, and in urban areas such as public parks, playgrounds or gardens.
The insecticide imidacloprid and the herbicide metolachlor showed the highest absolute number of exceedances across Europe, primarily in northern Italy and northeastern Spain.
In groundwater, the herbicide atrazine caused the most exceedances — even though it has been banned since 2007.
Human exposure to chemical pesticides, primarily through food but also through the air in agriculture-intense regions, is linked to the development of cardiac, respiratory and neurological disease, as well as cancer, the report said.
“Worryingly, all of the pesticides monitored … were detected in higher concentrations in children than in adults,” the EEA said.— AFP