Ecological Relative Risk (EcoRR): Another approach for risk assessment of pesticides in agriculture

Publisher:
Elsevier B.V.l
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 2002, 91 (1-3), pp. 37 - 57
Issue Date:
2002-01
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A site-specific methodology was developed to assess and compare the ecotoxicological risk that agricultural pesticides pose to ecosystems. The Ecological Relative Risk (EcoRR) is a composite scoring index for comparing relative risks between different plant protection products, and is used to assess the potential ecological impact their residues have after being applied to agricultural systems. The EcoRR model is based on standard frameworks for risk assessment (e.g. PEC/toxicity), but takes account of factors such as persistence of residues and biodiversity of ecosystems. The exposure module considers the environmental concentrations of a substance, its persistence, bioaccumulation and probability of exposure in several environmental compartments (water, sediment, soil, vegetation, air). The toxicity module takes into account the biodiversity of the ecosystems affected, whereby the endpoints used are weighted by the proportional contribution of each taxon in a given environmental compartment. EcoRR scores are calculated independently for each compartment and affected areas, thus enabling pinpointing of where risks will occur. The procedure to calculate EcoRR scores is explained using an example, and a sensitivity analysis of the model is included. A simulated risk assessment of 37 pesticides intended for use in a cotton development is also given as a case study. Exposure data were obtained using fugacity model II in areas previously defined by spray drift models. Toxicity data to vertebrate taxa and crustaceans were obtained from several databases, and biodiversity data from local sources. EcoRR scores were calculated for each compartment both on-farm and off-farm, during a normal growing season and during a flood, and a comparative relative assessment for all pesticides is discussed. EcoRR scores were also compared to traditional assessments using quotients for some taxa in the aquatic and terrestrial environments, revealing a good correlation between both models
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