Pesticide Exposures for People in Agricultural Areas

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Abstract:

The risks to people in the countryside from pesticide spraying (commonly known as "residents" and "bystanders"), has been in the political and media spotlight since July 2001, when I first questioned the adequacy of the current regulatory system at the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) annual Open Meeting.

Since then there has been further consideration of the issue by the ACP and the Government regulators the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD); two Government Consultation' s on crop-spraying, followed by a year long investigation by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP).

The ACP, the PSD and other UK Government agencies have continued to maintain that a robust system is in place to protect public health.

However, the RCEP report published in September 2005 entitled Crop-Spraying and the Health of Residents and Bystanders, concluded that crop-spraying is a potential health risk and that chronic illnesses and diseases reported by people in rural areas, including cancer, Parkinson' s and ME, could be associated with pesticide exposure. (RCEP, 2005).

The ACP has recently published its response to the RCEP report where the majority of ACP members remain of the view that pesticide spraying does not pose any significant health risks to those exposed and have continued to dismiss the problem as merely a social issue rather than a scientific one. (ACP, 2006).

With two of its main advisory bodies fundamentally disagreeing on the public health risks of pesticide spraying and with the Government response to the reports due out in a few months time, what action should the Government now take?

Keywords: ACUTE; ASTHMA; BYSTANDERS; CANCER; CHILDREN; CHRONIC; COMMUNITIES; CROP-SPRAYING; EXPOSURE; LEUKAEMIA; ME; PESTICIDES; REGULATIONS; RESIDENTS; RISK

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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