• Samples exceeding MRLs were chosen from 5-year pesticide residue monitoring.
  • EFSA PRIMo model was used to assess acute intakes of adults and children.
  • HQ proved that consumption of fruit and vegetables pose no adverse effects.
  • Non-authorised chlorpyrifos was the most frequently detected pesticide.
  • A worst-case scenario ensured safety margin for the human health.
Human health risk assessment of pesticide residues in agricultural commodities is a key element of food safety strategy. The present study focused on potential risks resulting from selected fruit, vegetable and cereal samples with pesticide residues exceeding maximum residue levels (MRLs) from a 5-year survey of official control in Poland (2017–2021). A novel, common tool, the EFSA Pesticide Residue Intake Model PRIMo was used for short-term exposure calculation with embedded consumption data from EU Member States. The challenge of the research was to determine whether the International Estimated Short Time Intakes (IESTI) of toxic pesticides in the diet are acceptable or not. For the first time with long-term investigation which involved many legislative changes, we prepared a picture of the most dangerous pesticides present in fruits, vegetables and cereals for the most critical sub-populations of adults and children. We examined whether these substanc- es have the potential to cause harm to humans. From the full spectrum of 545 analyzed pes- ticides, we considered 13 pesticides above safety limits in the concentration range of 0.03 to 2.5 mg · kg–1 . The most frequently detected compound was the non-authorized, organo- phospate insecticide chlorpyrifos, which poses toxicological risks to humans. The results of acute exposure were up to 93% ARfD for adults and up to 130% for children. The Hazard Quotient (HQ) showed that consumption of agricultural plants with potential risk can be safe for adults and children, with some exceptions. Samples containing flonicamid/Brussel sprouts (HQ = 1.3) and chlorpyrifos/rucola (HQ = 1.1) could have negative health effects on humans. However, an approach which overestimates the exposure due to a worst-case scenario ensures the widest possible safety margin for the consumers.
The authors are thankful to the team of Laboratory of Food Safety in Bialystok, Poland.
This research material was a part of the Multiannual Program titled “Protection of crops with regard to food safety and reduction of yield losses and threats to human health, domestic animals and the environ- ment” financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Ru- ral Development, Poland, 2017–2021.
Piotr Kaczyński
The authors have declared that no conflict of interests exist.
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