Addressing bystander exposure to agricultural pesticides in life cycle impact assessment

Morten Walbech Ryberg*, Ralph K. Rosenbaum, Luc Mosqueron, Peter Fantke

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    Residents living near agricultural fields may be exposed to pesticides drifting from the fields after application to different field crops. To address this currently missing exposure pathway in life cycle assessment (LCA), we developed a modeling framework for quantifying exposure of bystanders to pesticide spray drift from agricultural fields. Our framework consists of three parts addressing: (1) loss of pesticides from an agricultural field via spray drift; (2) environmental fate of pesticide in air outside of the treated field; and (3) exposure of bystanders to pesticides via inhalation. A comparison with measured data in a case study on pesticides applied to potato fields shows that our model gives good predictions of pesticide air concentrations. We compared our bystander exposure estimates with pathways currently included in LCA, namely aggregated inhalation and ingestion exposure mediated via the environment for the general population, and general population exposure via ingestion of pesticide residues in consumed food crops. The results show that exposure of bystanders is limited relative to total population exposure from ingestion of pesticide residues in crops, but that the exposure magnitude of individual bystanders can be substantially larger than the exposure of populations not living in the proximity to agricultural fields. Our framework for assessing bystander exposure to pesticide applications closes a relevant gap in the exposure assessment included in LCA for agricultural pesticides. This inclusion aids decision-making based on LCA as previously restricted knowledge about exposure of bystanders can now be taken into account.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)541-549
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Life cycle assessment
    • Near-field exposure
    • Pesticide emissions
    • Residential bystanders
    • Spray drift


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