Improper storage of (obsolete) agrochemicals often leads to pesticides being spilled in the surroundings of the storage site, where they seep into the soil or are dispersed by wind. In some cases pesticide spillage has been going on for many years. Such spillage may cause serious soil or groundwater contamination. When soil and groundwater are contaminated, crops, livestock and drinking-water may become affected and, when they are consumed by human beings, health risks may occur.
This manual aims to help the user determine if pesticide spills have caused soil or groundwater contamination and, if so, whether or not that contamination implies risks for human health.
Not every spill of pesticides implies health risks. Some important factors determining the risks of a spill are:
the characteristics of the stored pesticides; some pesticides are more toxic than others, some degrade rapidly into harmless compounds, while others are more persistent;
how much of a pesticide has been spilled and how long the spillage has been occurring. It takes time for contamination to reach the high levels at which health risks may occur.
Taking these and other relevant aspects into account, this manual provides users with a simple method for reaching three conclusions:
whether it is likely that the soil or groundwater in the surroundings of the storage facility is contaminated;
whether such a possible contamination is causing risks for human beings;
what measures can be taken to reduce these risks.
Note that this manual does not deal with the health risks related to the use or handling of pesticides or those that occur at the storage site itself. Instead it discusses contamination and health risks outside the storage site, caused by distribution of pesticides in the surroundings.
The manual consists of a main text and appendixes. The main text describes the steps to be taken to predict whether spillage of pesticides has caused soil or groundwater contamination to such an extent that health risks have occurred. It consists of a series of tables, decision trees and short explanations and is intended for use by storekeepers and those officials responsible for pesticides management. The appendixes provide background information on the subjects dealt with in the main text and are more scientific.
The manual is divided into three parts. Part A helps the user determine whether the area around the store is contaminated and, if so, the size of the contaminated area. Part B helps the user determine whether this contamination has a health impact on human beings. Part C describes the measures to be taken when the contamination poses health risks. Each part describes the information needed to reach conclusions. The user should provide some of this information. The rest can be determined by using the graphs and formulas in the manual.