Use of plant protection products in lombardy, Italy and the health risk for the ingestion of contaminated water

Rosa Mercadante, Beatrice Dezza, Teresa Mammone, Angelo Moretto, Silvia Fustinoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pesticides used to protect agricultural crops may contaminate groundwater. This work aimed to identify the pesticides used in Lombardy, Italy, in 2016, their concentration in the ground-water and the risk for health associated with the intake of drinkable water in the adult population. The risk was evaluated for the presence of single and multiple active substances in the groundwater, calculating the hazard quotient (HQ) and the hazard index (HI), respectively. Lombardy utilises an agricultural area of 980,112 h, which is mainly cultivated with cereals (74%). Approximately 2354 pesticides (about 1.3 × 107 kg), containing 410 active substances (about 4.5 × 106 kg) were sold. There were groundwater contamination measurements in 158 monitoring points, which were investigated twice a year for 31 active substances, and a total of 9152 determinations. Only 17 cur-rently used active substance were measured in the groundwater, among which three belonged to the 10 best-sold pesticides. The exceedance of the environmental quality standard was observed for about 1.5% determinations. The intake of contaminated water in the adult population resulted in a HQ typically ranging between 10−3 and 10−4 and a HI of about 10−3. Although the number of pesticides sold in 2016 in Lombardy was big, only a small fraction of active substances was monitored in the groundwater. Considering these monitored substances, the intake of contaminated groundwater in the adult general population posed an irrelevant risk for health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Groundwater contamination
  • Human health risk assessment
  • Ingestion of contaminated water
  • Pesticides exposure
  • Plant protection products

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Chemical Health and Safety
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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