Pesticide Registration Toolkit

Assessment of HHPs

<< previous step: Identification of HHPs

Starting point: the list of products that require attention from the Indentification step.

Purpose: assess each product to determine whether action is desirable

Such assessment involves:

Assessment of risks

Assess whether the risks of the HHPs are likely to be acceptable or not. The risk assessment can be based on:

  • Studies about actual impact
    This could involve collection of available data on poisoning incidents for a specific product, e.g. from poisons information centres, hospital or health clinic records or from reporting by extension officers, decentralised plant protection staff or vector control programme staff.

  • Exposure monitoring data
    In some cases, actual exposure to an HHP can be measured. This can be done through direct exposure monitoring (analysing the pesticide on the body of a person when handling the product) or biomonitoring (analysis of the pesticide or one of its metabolites in blood, urine or breastmilk). Exposure measurements tend to be rather complex and expensive studies, and are therefore not often conducted in LMICs. 

  • Field observations or surveys of use
    Pesticide use surveys can provide valuable information about the risks of the use of HHPs in actual use conditions in a country. Information on pesticide application practices, availability and use of PPE, level of training and awareness of pesticide users and pesticide storage, among others, allow insight in the level of risk farmers or other pesticide users may run.
    Pesticide use surveys need to be designed carefully to ensure that staff resources are used most effectively and results are reliable.

  • Models to assess risk
    Pesticide exposure models can be used to estimate risks of HHPs. These include occupational, worker and dietary exposure models, among others. The Assessment Methods module in the Toolkit provides further guidance on risk assessment models for different types of human health and environmental risks.

  • Bridging risk assessments from other countries/regions
    A risk assessment of an HHP conducted in a reference country can be bridged to the local situation under review. When bridging, both the available hazard/toxicity data and exposure estimates are compared between the reference and the local situation, and an evaluation made about the acceptability of risk for the local use of the HHP. The Assessment Methods module in the Toolkit provides further guidance on bridging of different types of human health and environmental risks.

Risk assessment can thus be quantitative but also qualitative.

Assessment of needs

The needs assessment serves to establish to what extent the product is actually needed for its current uses, what specific benefits it provides and whether effective, less hazardous alternative pest management approaches or products that pose less risk might be available.

E.g. using stakeholder fora to determine:

  • For what purpose is the HHP being used?
  • What chemical and non-chemical alternatives are registered/available, or can be made available?

    There may often be a perception that HHPs need to remain available because there would be no good alternatives. This can prove to be a misconception that may persist because of user habits or advice based on limited knowledge or by persons with interest in the products concerned. In the majority of cases, there are alternatives that pose less risk. These may include suitable biopesticides or non-chemical pest management approaches, or less hazardous conventional pesticides. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Integrated Vector Management (IVM) are preferred approaches, as well as other agro-ecologically based production systems, such as organic agriculture.

    A useful approach can be to look at crop protection methods in other countries with similar agronomic conditions that have cancelled the use of certain HHPs. This may provide useful information about the availability and viability of alternatives for these HHPs. Within countries, there may also be areas where alternatives have been successfully introduced and that can serve as examples for other areas.
  • What are the limitations of the alternatives ?

    Many HHPs tend to be relatively cheap generic products. Higher prices of less hazardous alternatives are often mentioned as an impediment to their use. It is therefore important to understand and carefully consider the costs and benefits of cases where continued use of HHPs is requested. 

    In order to understand the full costs of HHPs, one should not only look at their price (per ha) but also at all other direct and indirect costs. Direct private costs include the purchasing of appropriate PPE and possible direct health costs such as medical expenses and loss of labour time if poisoning occurs. Indirect private costs include the costs of long-term health effects. Indirect public costs include long-term health costs to farming communities and consumers, reduced access to export markets due to pesticide residues, and environmental costs associated with water contamination and loss of biodiversity, including pollination functions.

The outcome of the assessment phase is a good understanding of the risks posed by HHPs under local conditions of use, their needs and available alternatives.

next step >> Mitigation of HHP risks