Agricultural pesticides: At which distance can we consider that we are out of danger?


Pollution by agricultural pesticides in homes is a subject that is still not widely known to the public today and it is difficult to imagine that pesticides can contaminate houses.

A study conducted in the United States and published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspective examined this subject by using dust collected from homes to determine the concentration levels of pesticides used in agriculture in them.

California is the leading agricultural state in the United States in terms of income generated and has used an average of nearly 100,000 tons of pesticides per year between 2004 and 2015.

The subject is sensitive and closely monitored. Indeed, it is now mandatory to report all agricultural pesticide use by indicating the substances and quantities applied, the crops treated, the place and date of treatment... This information is centralized in a database, the California Pesticide Use Reporting (CPUR).

How can we accurately measure pesticide pollution in homes?

Pesticides persist indoors, where they are protected from degradation by sunlight, moisture and microorganisms, making dust an excellent indicator tool for assessing housing contamination by these toxic substances.

For this study, between 2001 and 2006, dust was collected from carpets or rugs in 89 homes in northern and central California (San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley Area, Fresno Area).

Four insecticides (carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon and phosmet), one fungicide (iprodione) and two herbicides (clorthal-dimethyl and simazine), pesticides commonly used in these regions, were investigated.

The use of agricultural pesticides in the vicinity of residences was estimated by cross-referencing CPUR information with crop locations. The density of pesticides used was calculated within a radius of 500 to 1250 metres of the dwellings over a two-year period.

Do pesticides travel far from the treated areas?

This study provided accurate and reliable information on the contamination of the indoor environment by pesticides and other substances and in particular:

Correlations could be established between the quantities of pesticides used and the concentrations measured in dust.

The residues from the oldest applications were those with the highest concentrations in house dust. This observation strongly suggests that pesticide contamination of dwellings persists over long periods of time.

Houses reporting the use of agricultural pesticides in the vicinity had higher concentrations of pesticides in dust than did homes that were very far from the treated areas.

However, while pesticide concentrations are higher in dwellings located near treated areas within these areas, more residues have been found far from the fields than nearby. This indicates that pesticides contaminate the environment relatively far from the application areas.

Due to the limitation of this study to 1250 metres from the treated crops, although it could not be demonstrated, it is not excluded that pesticides may travel over greater distances.

It was also found that when a family member was in contact with pesticides at work (professional use), the amounts of agrochemical products in homes were higher. This observation shows that the substances are also brought home on clothing or shoes.

How do I know if my house is polluted with agricultural pesticides?

Whether you live near areas where pesticides are sprayed or applied, particularly cereals, fruits (apples, pears, peaches, orchards) or vines, your home is probably contaminated with pesticides.

As in this study, you can test with laboratory precision the indoor pollution of your home using a YOOTEST agricultural pesticides kit to assess whether the indoor air you breathe daily is contaminated with pesticides used in agriculture.

Knowing which substances you are exposed to is essential to reduce your exposure, effectively combat indoor pollution and limit their impact on your health.


Agricultural Pesticides Test

Indoor air quality diagnosis to measure indoor environmental pollution by pesticides: insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. Test with laboratory analysis. Order your Test