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      Farmers’ Exposure to Pesticides: Toxicity Types and Ways of Prevention

      editorial
      * ,
      Toxics
      MDPI
      Agricultural tasks, Direct spray contact, Drift, Occupational exposure

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          Abstract

          Synthetic pesticides are extensively used in agriculture to control harmful pests and prevent crop yield losses or product damage. Because of high biological activity and, in certain cases, long persistence in the environment, pesticides may cause undesirable effects to human health and to the environment. Farmers are routinely exposed to high levels of pesticides, usually much greater than those of consumers. Farmers’ exposure mainly occurs during the preparation and application of the pesticide spray solutions and during the cleaning-up of spraying equipment. Farmers who mix, load, and spray pesticides can be exposed to these chemicals due to spills and splashes, direct spray contact as a result of faulty or missing protective equipment, or even drift. However, farmers can be also exposed to pesticides even when performing activities not directly related to pesticide use. Farmers who perform manual labor in areas treated with pesticides can face major exposure from direct spray, drift from neighboring fields, or by contact with pesticide residues on the crop or soil. This kind of exposure is often underestimated. The dermal and inhalation routes of entry are typically the most common routes of farmers’ exposure to pesticides. Dermal exposure during usual pesticide handling takes place in body areas that remain uncovered by protective clothing, such as the face and the hands. Farmers’ exposure to pesticides can be reduced through less use of pesticides and through the correct use of the appropriate type of personal protective equipment in all stages of pesticide handling.

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          Most cited references47

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          Pesticide Exposure, Safety Issues, and Risk Assessment Indicators

          Pesticides are widely used in agricultural production to prevent or control pests, diseases, weeds, and other plant pathogens in an effort to reduce or eliminate yield losses and maintain high product quality. Although pesticides are developed through very strict regulation processes to function with reasonable certainty and minimal impact on human health and the environment, serious concerns have been raised about health risks resulting from occupational exposure and from residues in food and drinking water. Occupational exposure to pesticides often occurs in the case of agricultural workers in open fields and greenhouses, workers in the pesticide industry, and exterminators of house pests. Exposure of the general population to pesticides occurs primarily through eating food and drinking water contaminated with pesticide residues, whereas substantial exposure can also occur in or around the home. Regarding the adverse effects on the environment (water, soil and air contamination from leaching, runoff, and spray drift, as well as the detrimental effects on wildlife, fish, plants, and other non-target organisms), many of these effects depend on the toxicity of the pesticide, the measures taken during its application, the dosage applied, the adsorption on soil colloids, the weather conditions prevailing after application, and how long the pesticide persists in the environment. Therefore, the risk assessment of the impact of pesticides either on human health or on the environment is not an easy and particularly accurate process because of differences in the periods and levels of exposure, the types of pesticides used (regarding toxicity and persistence), and the environmental characteristics of the areas where pesticides are usually applied. Also, the number of the criteria used and the method of their implementation to assess the adverse effects of pesticides on human health could affect risk assessment and would possibly affect the characterization of the already approved pesticides and the approval of the new compounds in the near future. Thus, new tools or techniques with greater reliability than those already existing are needed to predict the potential hazards of pesticides and thus contribute to reduction of the adverse effects on human health and the environment. On the other hand, the implementation of alternative cropping systems that are less dependent on pesticides, the development of new pesticides with novel modes of action and improved safety profiles, and the improvement of the already used pesticide formulations towards safer formulations (e.g., microcapsule suspensions) could reduce the adverse effects of farming and particularly the toxic effects of pesticides. In addition, the use of appropriate and well-maintained spraying equipment along with taking all precautions that are required in all stages of pesticide handling could minimize human exposure to pesticides and their potential adverse effects on the environment.
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            Emerging pollutants in the environment: present and future challenges in biomonitoring, ecological risks and bioremediation.

            Emerging pollutants reach the environment from various anthropogenic sources and are distributed throughout environmental matrices. Although great advances have been made in the detection and analysis of trace pollutants during recent decades, due to the continued development and refinement of specific techniques, a wide array of undetected contaminants of emerging environmental concern need to be identified and quantified in various environmental components and biological tissues. These pollutants may be mobile and persistent in air, water, soil, sediments and ecological receptors even at low concentrations. Robust data on their fate and behaviour in the environment, as well as on threats to ecological and human health, are still lacking. Moreover, the ecotoxicological significance of some emerging micropollutants remains largely unknown, because satisfactory data to determine their risk often do not exist. This paper discusses the fate, behaviour, (bio)monitoring, environmental and health risks associated with emerging chemical (pharmaceuticals, endocrine disruptors, hormones, toxins, among others) and biological (bacteria, viruses) micropollutants in soils, sediments, groundwater, industrial and municipal wastewaters, aquaculture effluents, and freshwater and marine ecosystems, and highlights new horizons for their (bio)removal. Our study aims to demonstrate the imperative need to boost research and innovation for new and cost-effective treatment technologies, in line with the uptake, mode of action and consequences of each emerging contaminant. We also address the topic of innovative tools for the evaluation of the effects of toxicity on human health and for the prediction of microbial availability and degradation in the environment. Additionally, we consider the development of (bio)sensors to perform environmental monitoring in real-time mode. This needs to address multiple species, along with a more effective exploitation of specialised microbes or enzymes capable of degrading endocrine disruptors and other micropollutants. In practical terms, the outcomes of these activities will build up the knowledge base and develop solutions to fill the significant innovation gap faced worldwide.
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              Large effects from small exposures. I. Mechanisms for endocrine-disrupting chemicals with estrogenic activity.

              Information concerning the fundamental mechanisms of action of both natural and environmental hormones, combined with information concerning endogenous hormone concentrations, reveals how endocrine-disrupting chemicals with estrogenic activity (EEDCs) can be active at concentrations far below those currently being tested in toxicological studies. Using only very high doses in toxicological studies of EEDCs thus can dramatically underestimate bioactivity. Specifically: a) The hormonal action mechanisms and the physiology of delivery of EEDCs predict with accuracy the low-dose ranges of biological activity, which have been missed by traditional toxicological testing. b) Toxicology assumes that it is valid to extrapolate linearly from high doses over a very wide dose range to predict responses at doses within the physiological range of receptor occupancy for an EEDC; however, because receptor-mediated responses saturate, this assumption is invalid. c) Furthermore, receptor-mediated responses can first increase and then decrease as dose increases, contradicting the assumption that dose-response relationships are monotonic. d) Exogenous estrogens modulate a system that is physiologically active and thus is already above threshold, contradicting the traditional toxicological assumption of thresholds for endocrine responses to EEDCs. These four fundamental issues are problematic for risk assessment methods used by regulatory agencies, because they challenge the traditional use of extrapolation from high-dose testing to predict responses at the much lower environmentally relevant doses. These doses are within the range of current exposures to numerous chemicals in wildlife and humans. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that the type of positive and negative controls appropriate to the study of endocrine responses are not part of traditional toxicological testing and are frequently omitted, or when present, have been misinterpreted.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                Toxics
                Toxics
                toxics
                Toxics
                MDPI
                2305-6304
                08 January 2016
                March 2016
                : 4
                : 1
                : 1
                Affiliations
                Department of Agricultural Development, Democritus University of Thrace, GR-682 00 Orestiada, Greece; skoutrou@ 123456agro.duth.gr
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: cdamalas@ 123456agro.duth.gr ; Tel.: +30-25520-41-116; Fax: +30-25520-41-191
                Article
                toxics-04-00001
                10.3390/toxics4010001
                5606636
                29051407
                14a559a1-d6f8-453d-b4b7-aff7d4262415
                © 2016 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                History
                : 23 November 2015
                : 05 January 2016
                Categories
                Editorial

                agricultural tasks,direct spray contact,drift,occupational exposure

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