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Evaluation of the environmental impact of apple pest control strategies using pesticide risk indicators



Various pesticide risk indicators have been developed for estimating pesticide impact on human health and the environment. The present work applied a pesticide risk indicator to estimate change in pesticide risk in apple production between 2001 and 2009. The “Environmental Impact Quotient” was used, which evaluates potential impacts of pesticide active ingredients on farm workers, consumers, and nontarget organisms. A modified Environmental Impact Quotient was also tested, which accounts for all ingredients in the formulation presenting a health or environmental hazard, as identified in the Security Data Sheet. Irrespective of the rating system applied, an overall average improvement in environmental impact of apple protection strategies was indicated ranging from 23 to 24%. Hazard reduction was more significant when estimated per treatment, and was higher for acaricides and insecticides than for fungicides. Improvement appeared to be a consequence of using more selective and more effective active ingredients, applying alternative pest control techniques, compulsory periodic sprayer calibration, and wider use of dwarfing orchards. The modified Environmental Impact Quotient does not overcome all limitations regarding accuracy of pesticide risk indicators, but its ease of use in relying on official, easily accessible data, and the consistency of its results, makes it a good candidate for monitoring the success of reduced risk policies. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2011;7:542–549. © 2011 SETAC

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