Fungicides: An Overlooked Pesticide Class?

Jochen P. Zubrod*, Mirco Bundschuh, Gertie Arts, Carsten A. Brühl, Gwenaël Imfeld, Anja Knäbel, Sylvain Payraudeau, Jes J. Rasmussen, Jason Rohr, Andreas Scharmüller, Kelly Smalling, Sebastian Stehle, Ralf Schulz, Ralf B. Schäfer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

227 Citations (Scopus)


Fungicides are indispensable to global food security and their use is forecasted to intensify. Fungicides can reach aquatic ecosystems and occur in surface water bodies in agricultural catchments throughout the entire growing season due to their frequent, prophylactic application. However, in comparison to herbicides and insecticides, the exposure to and effects of fungicides have received less attention. We provide an overview of the risk of fungicides to aquatic ecosystems covering fungicide exposure (i.e., environmental fate, exposure modeling, and mitigation measures) as well as direct and indirect effects of fungicides on microorganisms, macrophytes, invertebrates, and vertebrates. We show that fungicides occur widely in aquatic systems, that the accuracy of predicted environmental concentrations is debatable, and that fungicide exposure can be effectively mitigated. We additionally demonstrate that fungicides can be highly toxic to a broad range of organisms and can pose a risk to aquatic biota. Finally, we outline central research gaps that currently challenge our ability to predict fungicide exposure and effects, promising research avenues, and shortcomings of the current environmental risk assessment for fungicides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3347-3365
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number7
Early online date1 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2019


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