Reduction of environmental risk
Plant protection products have been developed to destroy weeds or pests, which is why they can also have detrimental effects on other organisms in the environment. Tukes can only accept the use of products that do not have unacceptable effects on the environment or on non-target species when used according to instructions. The safety of use is ensured with possible restrictions on use.
Restrictions on use are based on a risk assessment conducted on the basis of research materials supplied by the applicant.
A risk assessment means that Tukes will evaluate the substances degradation and migration in the environment, i.e. the concentration of the substance in the soil, groundwater and surface water and its potential detrimental effects on organisms.
How Tukes conducts plant protection product risk assessments
In practice, the assessment means that Tukes calculates values such as the concentration of the plant protection product in the soil after application. Safe use requires the concentrations to remain below certain thresholds that will, for example, reduce the number of earthworms in the soil.
Correspondingly, for a water body evaluation, Tukes will determine the concentration of plant protection product in water bodies next to the application area. The concentration is influenced by the amount of plant protection product used and the estimated spray drift, surface runoff and drainage runoff. The safety of use is then evaluated by comparing the concentration to a safe concentration determined in laboratory tests.
In other words, Tukes only approves the use of products that do not pose a risk to groundwater or any category of organisms in Finland’s environment when used according to instructions.
To mitigate the environmental risk, Tukes can:
- change the usage amount applied for, provided that the product will retain its biological effectiveness;
- restrict the approved number of uses during the growing season or on the same field in consecutive years;
- prohibit use in classified groundwater basins to safeguard the purity of drinking water;
- restrict the use of the product and require the use of drift reducing nozzles in the vicinity of water bodies in order to protect fish and other aquatic organisms;
- restrict the application times of the product to protect pollinating insects; and
- issue instructions for the protection of birds and mammals.
Users of plant protection products are strictly required to observe the restrictions on use printed on the product’s sales packaging. You can check the currently valid restrictions from the Plant Protection Product Register.
The Finnish Environment Institute monitors plant protection product traces in surface and groundwater
Concentrations detrimental to the environment, or environmental quality standards, have been specified for the majority of plant protection products, and exceeding these concentrations is prohibited to preserve the chemical quality or good ecological status of water.
The concentration of individual plant protection products in groundwater may not exceed 0.1 µg/l and the total concentration of products may not exceed 0.5 µg/l. These limits are specified in, for example, the Drinking Water Directive, which is intended to safeguard the quality of drinking water intended for human consumption.
The Finnish Environment Institute monitors plant protection product traces in surface and groundwater.
The results of surface water monitoring are compared to environmental quality standards and the concentrations in groundwater to the above-mentioned limit values specified in the Drinking Water Directive.
If necessary, Tukes can change the conditions for using a product or prohibit it entirely if harmful concentrations of plant protection products are detected in surface water or concentrations in excess of the limit values are found in groundwater.