Alterra just published a handbook to develop Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) procedures in China for pesticide registration, including a series of relevant guidance documents. It contains a methodology and technical work instructions to perform these assessments. The handbook (Alterra report 2558) aims at increasing transparency and consistency in the registration process. The focus is on the environment and ‘beneficial animals’. Aquatic ecosystems, birds, honeybees, silkworms and groundwater were selected as protection goals. For each the following three questions were answered. What do we want to protect? Where do we want to protect? How strict do we want to protect?
For each protection goal risk assessment procedures are described in the handbook. The risk characterization is expressed as a Risk Quotient (RQ) which is calculated by dividing the exposure concentration by the safe concentration (i.e. PEC/PNEC). If the value of RQ is below or equal to 1, i.e. the exposure is lower than the safe concentration, then the risk is acceptable. If the value of RQ is above 1, i.e. the exposure is higher than the safe concentration, it might be possible that the risk is not acceptable and higher tier risk assessment is needed. If higher tier assessment does not result in acceptable risk, mitigation measures or restrictions are given for every protection goal.
The handbook is part of a series of Alterra reports to describe the work done within the framework of the Sino-Dutch Pesticide Environmental Risk Assessment Project (PERAP). PERAP is a cooperation platform between Chinese and Dutch governmental bodies and research institutes. The PERAP project aims the development of sound environmental risk assessment procedures, applicable in the Chinese context and acceptable as legal framework for the Chinese pesticide registration procedure.
A second publication (Alterra report 2559) describes details of the models and the scenarios developed to estimate concentrations of pesticides leaching to the groundwater and pesticide concentrations in surface water as part of the Chinese ERA procedures. Detailed information is given on the scenario development steps, the parameterisation of the models and extended technical details are given to assure transparency and traceability of all the decisions. Alterra report 2560 describes an evaluation of the consequences of setting different registration criteria on the number and type of pesticides that may be registered, or require risk mitigation, in China. This study intents to provide a basis for ICAMA to set environmental registration criteria which are both economically realistic and environmentally sound.
In China, the Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals, Ministry of Agriculture (ICAMA) is responsible for the pesticide registration procedures in China. ICAMA, Alterra and the Chinese Agricultural Academy of Sciences (CAAS), have been working together towards this aim as the three major participants of the PERAP project. Some other institutions/organizations, such as Plant Research International, Ctgb (Board for the Authorisation of Plant Protection Products and Biocides, the Netherlands), China Agricultural University (CAU), WILresearch and others also made valuable contributions to this joint project.
The three reports together form a sound basis for environmental risk assessment as part of the pesticide registration process in China. They contribute to the ambition of the Ministry of Agriculture of China to reduce the environmental impact of pesticide use and increase sustainability of agricultural production.