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A Meta-Analysis of Global Insecticide Concentrations in Agricultural Surface Waters

Although global pesticide use increases steadily, our field-data based knowledge regarding exposure of non-target ecosystems is very restricted. Consequently, this meta-analysis will for the first time evaluate the worldwide available peer-reviewed information on agricultural insecticide concentrations in surface water or sediment and test the following two hypotheses: I) Insecticide concentrations in the field largely exceed regulatory threshold levels and II) Additional factors important for threshold level exceedances can be quantified using retrospective meta-analysis. A feasibility study using a restricted dataset (n = 377) suggested the significance of the expected results, i.e. an threshold level exceedance rate of more than 50% of the detected concentrations. Subsequent to a comprehensive database search in the peer-reviewed literature of the past 60 years, analysis of covariance with the relevant threshold level exceedance as the continuous dependent variable (about 10,000 cases) will be performed and the impact of significant predictor variables will be quantified. Parameters not yet considered in pesticide exposure assessment will be included as independent variables, such as compound class, environmental regulatory quality, and sampling design. The simultaneous presence of several insecticide compounds as a well as their metabolites will also be considered in the evaluation. The present approach may provide an innovative and integrated view on the potential environmental side effects of global high-intensity agriculture and in particular of pesticides use.



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Financial support

German Research Foundation (DFG)


Sebastian Stehle

Prof. Dr. Ralf Schulz