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Evaluation of FOCUS surface water pesticide concentration predictions and risk assessment of field-measured pesticide mixtures—a crop-based approach under Mediterranean conditions

Pereira, Ana Santos, Daam, Michiel A., Cerejeira, Maria José
Environmental science and pollution research international 2017 v.24 no.21 pp. 17394-17406
agroecosystems, environmental quality, exposure profile, freshwater, insecticides, models, prediction, risk, surface water
FOCUS models are used in the European regulatory risk assessment (RA) to predict individual pesticide concentrations in edge-of-field surface waters. The scenarios used in higher tier FOCUS simulations were mainly based on Central/North European, and work is needed to underpin the validity of simulated exposure profiles for Mediterranean agroecosystems. In addition, the RA of chemicals are traditionally evaluated on the basis of single substances although freshwater life is generally exposed to a multitude of pesticides. In the present study, we monitored 19 pesticides in surface waters of five locations in the Portuguese ‘Lezíria do Tejo’ agricultural area. FOCUS step 3 simulations were performed for the South European scenarios to estimate predicted environmental concentrations (PECs). We verified that 44% of the PECs underestimated the measured environmental concentrations (MEC) of the pesticides, showing a non-compliance with the field data. Risk was assessed by comparing the environmental quality standards (EQS) and regulatory acceptable concentrations with their respective MECs. Risk of mixtures was demonstrated in 100% of the samples with insecticides accounting for 60% of the total risk identified. The overall link between the RA and the actual situation in the field must be considerably strengthened, and field studies on pesticide exposure and effects should be carried out to assist the improvement of predictive approaches used for regulatory purposes.