Improving the Risk Assessment of Pesticides through the Integration of Human Biomonitoring and Food Monitoring Data: A Case Study for Chlorpyrifos

Jose V. Tarazona*, Maria Del Carmen González-Caballero, Mercedes de Alba-Gonzalez, Susana Pedraza-Diaz, Ana Cañas, Noelia Dominguez-Morueco, Marta Esteban-López, Irene Cattaneo, Andromachi Katsonouri, Konstantinos C. Makris, Thorhallur I. Halldorsson, Kristin Olafsdottir, Jan Paul Zock, Jonatan Dias, Annelies De Decker, Bert Morrens, Tamar Berman, Zohar Barnett-Itzhaki, Christian Lindh, Liese GillesEva Govarts, Greet Schoeters, Till Weber, Marike Kolossa-Gehring, Tiina Santonen, Argelia Castaño*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The risk assessment of pesticide residues in food is a key priority in the area of food safety. Most jurisdictions have implemented pre-marketing authorization processes, which are supported by prospective risk assessments. These prospective assessments estimate the expected residue levels in food combining results from residue trials, resembling the pesticide use patterns, with food con-sumption patterns, according to internationally agreed procedures. In addition, jurisdictions such as the European Union (EU) have implemented large monitoring programs, measuring actual pesticide residue levels in food, and are supporting large-scale human biomonitoring programs for confirming the actual exposure levels and potential risk for consumers. The organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos offers an interesting case study, as in the last decade, its acceptable daily intake (ADI) has been reduced several times following risk assessments by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This process has been linked to significant reductions in the use authorized in the EU, reducing consumers’ exposure progressively, until the final ban in 2020, accompanied by setting all EU maximum residue levels (MRL) in food at the default value of 0.01 mg/kg. We present a comparison of estimates of the consumer’s internal exposure to chlorpyrifos based on the urinary marker 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy), using two sources of monitoring data: monitoring of the food chain from the EU program and biomonitoring of European citizens from the HB4EU project, supported by a literature search. Both methods confirmed a drastic reduction in exposure levels from 2016 onwards. The margin of exposure approach is then used for conducting retrospective risk assessments at different time points, considering the evolution of our understanding of chlorpyrifos toxicity, as well as of exposure levels in EU consumers following the regulatory decisions. Concerns are presented using a color code, and have been identified for almost all studies, particularly for the highest exposed group, but at different levels, reaching the maximum level, red code, for children in Cyprus and Israel. The assessment uncertainties are highlighted and integrated in the identification of levels of concern.

Original languageEnglish
Article number313
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: This study was part of the HBM4EU project receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 733032. The authors want to thank Lars Niemann for his relevant comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Other keywords

  • chlorpyrifos
  • HBM4EU
  • human biomonitoring
  • pesticide exposure
  • pesticide risk assessment


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