Since April 2021, the association Générations Futures and YOOTEST propose to participate in EXPORIP, a unique study based on participatory science on the dispersion of agricultural pesticide residues near cultivation areas.
Volunteers were invited to participate by ordering a sampling kit online and to take a sample themselves with a wipe on the windows of their home. The wipes are then sent to the laboratory to look for 30 pesticides used exclusively in agriculture.
Bertrand, who lives in Alsace, took part in the study and gives us his testimony.
How did you hear about the EXPORIP study and why did you participate?
After living in big cities for more than 30 years, we decided 10 years ago to move to Alsace for professional reasons. The choice to live in the countryside was an obvious one.
Our home is not directly on the edge of the fields, but as there are many different crops in our village, I wondered about the use of pesticides in our village.
In May 2021, I was doing research on the exposure of local residents to pesticides and I learned about the EXPORIP study on the Générations Futures website. I quickly ordered the sampling kit with the analysis to have an individual report.
How did your test go?
After ordering online, I received the sampling kit a few days later. I read the instructions carefully as I thought it would be quite technical.
In fact it was quite simple, the hardest part was choosing the window!
I chose a window on the first floor and marked out an area of 50cm x 50cm with tape. After taking the wipe out of its packaging, I unfolded it completely and wiped the window once. I then folded the wipe and wiped the window and repeated the operation several times.
When finished, the wipe is rolled up and inserted into the plastic tube provided. I completed the information sheet. There is a lot of information to provide but it is possible to fill it in online: distance from the nearest crops, type of crop, etc. In my case, we are located about 100 metres from the crops and they are mainly cereals.
All in all it took me about 15 minutes. I put it all in the prepaid envelope provided and posted it in a letterbox.
Were you surprised by your pesticide test results?
A few weeks later I received an email with a link to download my test report which I read very carefully as I am not a scientist and don't know much about it.
The report was well written and understandable, I could quickly see that my sample contained 5 pesticide residues at significant concentrations! The report said that they were herbicides and fungicides.
One evening we were discussing with the neighbours about spraying distances and I could see on the Ministry's website that a minimum distance of 20m had to be applied to protect the neighbours from pesticide drift. I didn't think that, being more than 80 m away, I would have that much!
In the rest of the report, I was able to get information about the pesticides in question and advice on how to try to avoid them entering my home. However, it seems difficult to avoid them!
What do you intend to do with the results?
I discussed the results with my neighbours to see what they thought. Although they were surprised by the results, they told me that it was not surprising because Alsace is an agricultural region with many crops.
It's true that agriculture is quite important in our commune and it's unfortunately a taboo subject. It is difficult to discuss the subject with the town hall and the farmers without getting an outcry. I still intend to send my report to the town hall, but I have little hope that raising awareness among farmers will be on the agenda of the town council.
There are a few farmers who practice organic farming and I wonder if, despite their efforts, their products are not polluted.
The pesticides on my windows are all "harmful to the environment" and one of them is "dangerous for humans". I am worried about my family's health. I will discuss this with our family doctor.
I am aware that I am not the only one. The data from the study will be made public and I hope that Generation Future's action will enable the authorities to become aware of this situation, to act to limit the use of these chemicals and to better protect local residents.
Generations Futures/YOOTEST CampaignEXPORIP: 1st national campaign to study agricultural pesticide drift. Test conducted in laboratory.
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