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.
Bibliographical noteFunding 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.
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- human biomonitoring
- pesticide exposure
- pesticide risk assessment