Dynamic multicrop model to characterize impacts of pesticides in food

Peter Fantke, Ronnie Juraske, Assumpcio Anton, Rainer Friedrich, Olivier Jolliet

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A new dynamic plant uptake model is presented to characterize health impacts of pesticides applied to food crops, based on a flexible set of interconnected compartments. We assess six crops covering a large fraction of the worldwide consumption. Model estimates correspond well with observed pesticide residues for 12 substance-crop combinations, showing residual errors between a factor 1.5 and 19. Human intake fractions, effect and characterization factors are provided for use in life cycle impact assessment for 726 substance-crop combinations and different application times. Intake fractions typically range from 102 to 108 kgintake kgapplied 1 . Human health impacts vary up to 9 orders of magnitude between crops and 10 orders of magnitude between pesticides, stressing the importance of considering interactions between specific crop-environments and pesticides. Time between application and harvest, degradation half-life in plants and residence time in soil are driving the evolution of pesticide masses.We demonstrate that toxicity potentials can be reduced up to 99% by defining adequate pesticide substitutions. Overall, leafy vegetables only contribute to 2% of the vegetal consumption, but due to later application times and higher intake fractions may nevertheless lead to impacts comparable or even higher than via the larger amount of ingested cereals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
Pages (from-to)8842–8849
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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