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Locust Watch
Locusts in Caucasus and Central Asia
Kyrgyzstan, 2015. ©FAO/H. Van der Valk

Human Health and the Environment

Adequate locust management implies mitigating and monitoring the potential impact of control operations on human health and the environment with a view to limit any negative side effects due to pesticides, their storage, handling, transport and spraying.

The main human health issue is related to the use of inappropriate pesticides and formulations and/or unnecessary exposure during pesticide handling, transportation, storage and spraying operations. Plant protection staff and workers involved in these operations are under greater risk but rural populations living in treated areas can also be exposed to pesticides. Environment, i.e. soil, water, vegetation and non-target organisms, is also under potential threat in case of pesticide misuse.

Special emphasis must therefore be given to mitigating impact of locust control on human health and the environment, with adoption of appropriate behaviours and specific measures before, during and after control operations. There are many ways to significantly reduce undesirable or unforeseen negative impacts of locust control operations using pesticides. They include:

  • Systematic use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by staff involved in control operations and pesticide management;
  • Well-trained staff carrying out control operations in the respect of good practices, including with sprayers properly calibrated and used;
  • Use of updated and efficient techniques (such as barrier treatments and ULV) as well as less environmentally hazardous pesticides, in particular alternatives to conventional pesticides (i.e. Insect Growth Regulators –IGRs- and biopesticides), and formulations (such ready-to-use ones); 
  • Respect of protected areas and buffer zones;
  • Adequate pesticide management, i.e. handling, transportation, storage;
  • Collection and disposal of empty pesticide containers;
  • Timely information and awareness raising of local populations, including on withholding and re-entry periods for humans and livestock, pre-harvest intervals, no re-use of empty containers, etc.

Monitoring the efficacy, quality and impact of locust control operations on human health and the environment is also essential for improving future control operations in addition of adopting any remedial actions, should they be required. This includes:

  • Assessment of control efficacy and quality, including by the use of the Spray Monitoring Form;
  • Assessment of the potential effects on human health (operators, including by measuring incidence of exposure to chemical pesticides/organophosphates, and local populations) and fauna (non-target organisms such as beneficial arthropods, birds, mammals, reptiles, aquatic fauna). This can be done on the spot and as first step by the control agents (as part of the Spray Monitoring Form) and more in depth by specialized Human Health and Environmental Monitoring Teams, set up, trained and equipped to conduct field monitoring missions during the locust campaigns.
  • Side effects can also be detected (and corrected if needed) by conducting pesticide residue analysis (i.e. sampling  and analysing of soil, water, vegetation, fauna, etc.). 

HUMAN HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS AND PROGRAMME RELATED OBJECTIVE

The “Programme to improve national and regional locust management in Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA)” (Result 5) aims at contributing to mitigate and monitor impact of locust control operations. 


A number of activities have been carried out since 2011, including the development of national systems for environmental and human health monitoring of locust control operations in three countries, which resulted in the creation of Human Health and Environmental Monitoring Teams in two of them, 2015 and 2016, for the first time ever in CCA. The dissemination of such successful practices as well as improvement of knowledge and practices are required in the coming years, subject to available funds. A number of activities have already been implemented to that end since 2011 and more is planned as this is one of the main axes for the coming years. Information on Results achieved over the 2011-2016 period and The way forward is available on this website under “Programme and donors”.