Since Ethiopia is going through a rapid transformation of its agricultural sector, we assessed the human health and environmental risks due to the past use of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) as well as the risks of the current pesticide use by farmers. A monitoring programme and risk assessment was carried out for the Wedecha-Belbela irrigation system in the Debra Zeit area. The Wedecha and Belbela rivers and adjacent temporary ponds were sampled and examined for the presence of OCPs between August and October 2014, while data on the current pesticide use by small- and large-scale farmers was collected by interviews. The usage patterns were evaluated for risks of using the river or temporary ponds as source of drinking water and for risks for the aquatic ecosystems in the river and ponds with the aid of the PRIMET_Registration_Ethiopa_1.1 model. The samples were collected in five sampling periods, and results indicate that most of the 18 target OCPs were not detected above the detection limit, while g-chlordane may pose chronic risks when surface water is used as drinking water. Endosulfan and heptachlor pose risks to aquatic organisms at second-tier level, while for heptachlor-epoxide B, g-chlordane and b-BHC only risks could be determined at the first tier due to a lack of data. For all nine pesticides used by small-scale farmers the calculated acute risks to humans were low. Second tier risk assessment for the aquatic ecosystem indicated that lambda-cyhalothrin, endosulfan, profenofos, and diazinon may pose high risks.
- Chemical monitoring
- Risk assessment