Health concerns lead to tightening of chlorpyrifos use

New safety levels have been agreed for chlorpyrifos, an insecticide used to control pests in agricultural crops and amenity situations, according to the government agency which licenses them.

Image: HW
Image: HW

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said: "With the full co-operation of product authorisation holders, where the risk assessments have already identified current uses that can no longer be supported, HSE are taking the precautionary approach of restricting those uses now."

The list of changed uses, which take effect from tomorrow (21 May), is as follows:

  • Apples and pears: No use after blossom except for crops destined for cider or perry production. Pre-blossom treatments can continue.
  • Strawberries: No use for 15 days before harvest (replacing the current pre-harvest interval of 7 days).
  • Plums: No use after blossom except for crops intended for heat preservation. Pre-blossom treatments can continue.
  • Brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, calabrese, oriental cabbages, Brussels sprouts, cabbage): Use only before the head forms.
  • Potatoes: Use only on seed crop potatoes.

The HSE said in a statement: "We do not expect an effect on human health from any commodities previously treated with chlorpyrifos. As such we do not consider it is necessary to take steps to withdraw any previously treated food from the marketplace."

It added that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is reviewing the maximum concentration of chlorpyrifos residue permitted in, or on, food commodities and anticipates that EU Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) will be lowered as a result, adding: "Apples and pears grown and harvested this year should not exceed any new MRLs."


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