Multiple stress by repeated use of plant protection products in agricultural areas

R. Luttik, M.I. Zorn, T.C.M. Brock, E.W.M. Roex, A.M.A. van der Linden

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional


Current risk assessment of plant protection products is performed on a formulated-product-by-formulated-product basis and does not take into account the fact that products may be mixed and/or that different products are used sequentially within a growing season. This report evaluates three possibilities for taking these aspects into account in the future that target the risks for surface water. The investigated methods have been shown to be able to take ‘multiple stresses’ into consideration. Further investigation is needed to check if these methods are sufficient. In this report, three different methods were used to assess the multiple stresses caused by parallel and sequential applications of plant protection products according to realistic application scenarios during the growing season of a tuber crop and an orchard crop. The methods show the effects of the different products on the organisms living in a ditch at the edge of a field. The first method used is the so-called Toxic Unit method, in which the contributions of the individual substances to the overall toxicity are summed and the maximum in time is calculated. The second method, the mixture toxic pressure method (msPAF), calculates the potentially affected fraction of aquatic organisms, taking into account differences in the sensitivity of the organisms to the various substances. The third method, the MASTEP population model, calculates the time necessary for a sensitive aquatic organism (an aquatic isopod) to recover from its exposure to the various substances. The Toxic Unit method (TU) is the one most comparable to the current authorization assessment. All three methods show that a few substances determine a large part of the calculated total effect. The TU-method and the mixture toxic pressure (msPAF) method are useful in identifying these active substances. These selected substances were then used in the MASTEP calculations. The MASTEP method, using Asellus aquaticus as indicator species, did indicate no or hardly any longer recovery times for the multiple applications in comparison with those calculated for the individual pesticide applications. This result applies to species with a high number of offspring. It is recommended that the MASTEP method is used with water organisms that have other survival strategies. At the moment, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) undertakes activities to develop tools and guidance to assess the human and ecological risks of combined exposure to multiple active substances. This report can contribute to these activities.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBilthoven
PublisherNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment
Number of pages70
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameRIVM report

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    Luttik, R., Zorn, M. I., Brock, T. C. M., Roex, E. W. M., & van der Linden, A. M. A. (2017). Multiple stress by repeated use of plant protection products in agricultural areas. (RIVM report; No. 2016-0152). National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.