Ill due to pesticides: EFSA investigates effects of combinations

Dutch farmers may be at greater risk of cancer, Parkinson's disease, reduced fertility and other health problems due to exposure to 'a cocktail of pesticides', according to European research led by Wageningen University. 

Researchers found traces of 170 pesticides in a few dozen farms in Groningen and Friesland. Traces of 144 different pesticides are also found in urban areas. 

European rules only set limits for individual pesticides, per species, but there are no rules yet for exposure to combinations of them. The European food researchers of EFSA are currently working on this.

The dust from rural homes was tested for 207 pesticides. The most common pesticide was herbicide glyphosate, followed by two pesticides that are no longer allowed on the European market but degrade very slowly. 'Compared to other EU countries, the Netherlands has high levels of pesticides in farms', professor of soil physics Violette Geissen recently told 

According to EFSA, some 40% of the pesticides found in the farm dust are 'possibly or very likely' carcinogenic. This year, the results of a study into the brain disease Parkinson in the Bollenstreek, where many pesticides are used, are expected. 

The LTO said in a response that it was pleased with the investigation. It is important that farmers and their families can work in a safe environment, a spokesman said. Most pesticides are considered safe, but if research shows otherwise, action must be taken.