Plant uptake of pesticides and human health: Dynamic modeling of residues in wheat and ingestion intake

Peter Fantke, Raphaël Charles, Luiz Felippe de Alencastro, Rainer Friedrich, Olivier Jolliet

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Human intake of pesticide residues from consumption of processed food plays an important role for evaluating current agricultural practice. We take advantage of latest developments in crop-specific plant uptake modeling and propose an innovative dynamic model to estimate pesticide residues in the wheat-environment system, dynamiCROP. We used this model to analyze uptake and translocation of pesticides in wheat after foliar spray application and subsequent intake fractions by humans. Based on the evolution of residues in edible parts of harvested wheat we predict that between 22 mg and 2.1 g per kg applied pesticide are taken in by humans via consumption of processed wheat products. Model results were compared with experimentally derived concentrations in wheat ears and with estimated intake via inhalation and ingestion caused by indirect emissions, i.e. the amount lost to the environment during pesticide application. Modeled and measured concentrations in wheat fitted very well and deviate from less than a factor 1.5 for chlorothalonil to a maximum factor 3 for tebuconazole. Main aspects influencing pesticide fate behavior are degradation half-life in plant and time between pesticide application and crop harvest, leading to variations in harvest fraction of at least three orders of magnitude. Food processing may further reduce residues by approximately 63%. Intake fractions from residues in sprayed wheat were up to four orders of magnitude higher than intake fractions estimated from indirect emissions, thereby demonstrating the importance of exposure from consumption of food crops after direct pesticide treatment. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1639–1647
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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