Air Extérieur

Pesticides in outdoor air: ANSES identifies the substances requiring further assessment

Today, ANSES is publishing its initial interpretation work on health impacts based on the results of the national exploratory campaign to measure pesticides (CNEP) in air, conducted jointly by ANSES, INERIS and the approved air quality monitoring associations (AASQAs) from June 2018 to June 2019. The aim of this first step was to build on the campaign results to formulate a proposal for permanently monitoring pesticides in air on a national level in the coming months. ANSES thus identified 32 top priority substances for which further investigation is required to guide this monitoring activity.

The CNEP provided an unprecedented national snapshot of substances in ambient air

The national exploratory pesticide campaign (CNEP) conducted by ANSES, INERIS and the AASQA network provided a snapshot of substances found in ambient air (except areas with local emission sources) and their concentration levels in France (metropolitan and overseas). Such substances are used in plant protection products, biocides, veterinary medicinal products and antiparasitic drugs for human use. The list of substances to be measured was established in 2017 by ANSES on the basis of characteristics with regard to hazards, emission and persistence in air, and criteria for their level of use.

During the national large-scale campaign launched in June 2018, 75 substances were measured over 12 months according to a newly harmonised protocol, and 1,300 analyses were produced for each of these substances.

France is one of the few countries in Europe, besides Belgium, to have undertaken this kind of campaign for measuring pesticides in ambient air on a national scale.

ANSES identified 32 substances requiring further investigation

On the basis of the CNEP results, ANSES carried out initial interpretation work to assess the health impacts of 70 substances confirmed in outdoor air. This analysis identified substances requiring further consideration for possible inclusion in the national monitoring system for pesticides in air.

This initial work to interpret health impacts was carried out using two approaches capitalising on measured concentration levels, the frequencies at which substances were measured in the air, toxicity reference values, and the most unfavourable hazard classifications for each substance, by reviewing both the databases of regulatory agencies and the scientific literature.

The first approach compared the results of air measurements with available toxicological data to provide health risk indicators. In the current state of knowledge, the low level of these indicators did not show a major health issue in connection with the exposure of the general population via outdoor air, excluding areas with local emission sources.

A second approach led to the prioritisation of 32 substances of interest[1] . Among these 32 substances, lindane, considered to be one of the most harmful substances, with proven carcinogenic, and/or reprotoxic and/or endocrine disrupting effects, was quantified in nearly 80% of the samples analysed, even though it has been banned in France for many years.

The priority of ANSES is to evaluate the status of lindane without delay

ANSES embarked without delay on an in-depth examination of the status of lindane: the first step will be to identify the reasons for its persistence, and then to estimate the cumulative exposure via various routes – through inhalation, ingesting food or skin contact – and environments, including indoor and outdoor air. Recommendations to address emission sources to limit contamination by this substance can then be made. For the remaining eight banned substances (underlined in the footnote), ANSES will continue its work along similar lines.

For the other top priority substances, it plans to carry out additional expert appraisal work in the near future, which will also include the other chronic exposure routes for these substances. These investigations will make use of the latest available data, with regard to both toxicological values and data on the hazards and health impacts of the various substances.

As this work constitutes a first step in the use of the CNEP results, ANSES believes that a proposal for the permanent monitoring of pesticides in air will need to be formulated in the coming months. As part of this, it will:

  • carry out more detailed analyses on a regional or local level to address contexts which were not reviewed during the first step;

  • enhance synergies with other monitoring schemes, such as for water or biomonitoring;

  • draw comparisons with recommendations already made by ANSES on pollutants, such as for 1,3-butadiene and manganese.

Lastly, ANSES will extend this work to include the environmental impacts of pesticides in air.

[1] Deltamethrin, diuron, epoxiconazole, etofenprox, fenarimol, iprodione, lindane, linuron, metribuzin, myclobutanil, pentachlorophenol, phosmet, permethrin, 2,4-di, boscalid, chlorothalonil, chlorpropham, chlorpyriphos-ethyl, cyprodinil, fenpropidin, fluazinam, folpet, glyphosate, metazachlor, oxadiazon, pendimethalin, propyzamide, pyrimethanil, S-metolachlor, spiroxamine, tebuconazole and triallate.