How many people are living close to agricultural fields exposed to pesticides? This is the most important question addressed by this research, which is coordinated by RIVM Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu and carried out by an independent team of specialists in agriculture and environmental assessment.
Measurements and calculations
The study is conducted in several areas in the Netherlands. The researchers have gathered various samples (for example of outdoor air, dust, soil and garden plants) to be tested for traces of pesticides. They also look for traces of pesticides in the urine of participating residents. Dietary patterns and relevant behaviors (for example time exercising outdoors) of the participating residents are recorded as well. The study aims to discover to which pesticides and in what quantities residents are exposed.
The exposure information gathered at residences will be compared to data on pesticide spraying in the area. The researchers use models to correlate the measurements, so that no matter the situation (for instance in case of extreme weather), predictions could still be made. This is a first crucial step to assess whether additional research is needed, so adequate participation of both residents and growers is essential.
The study outline and progress have been and will be discussed with stakeholders in a stakeholders group. This group represents the agricultural sector and residents, as well as other interested parties. The aim of the stakeholders group is to improve the quality and relevance of the research. These aspects will also be monitored by a scientific advisory committee.