High levels of pesticides detected in water samples around greenhouses

High levels of pesticides detected in water samples around greenhouses

Alarmingly high levels of pesticides have been detected in water samples around greenhouses in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, according to a new Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe study.

In Belgium, samples were obtained at Sint-Katelijne-Waver, in Antwerp Province, in a small watercourse nestled amongst greenhouse complexes, meadows, and buildings. Rainwater puddles and a local well were also tested.

Several of the 33 pesticides detected are banned substances.

Although individual pesticide levels are within national and European standards for water, their combined presence is of great concern, PAN Europe warns.

The study detected combined concentrations of up to 90 microgrammes per litre in surface water in Belgium, and up to 21 microgrammes per litre in rainwater.

Such concentrations are 180 and 42 times a recently proposed threshold of 0.5 microgrammes per litre for the total quantity of pesticides in surface waters, according to the network.

Belgium had the highest pesticide levels  of the four countries studied, with a fluopicolide concentration of 47 microgrammes per litre noted in surface water during the initial testing phase. High levels were sustained in the second sample batch.

These results demonstrate that pesticides are escaping from greenhouses, which are certainly not ‘closed systems,’  PAN Europe said.

This is worrying, it added, stressing the need for regulations to be adapted at both European and national levels.

Pesticide use in greenhouses should not be less regulated than outdoor use, the network said.

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