Pesticide Use in Market Gardening and Perceived Risk of Consumers Exposed to Pesticide Residues

Khaoula Toumi, Joly Laure, Soudani Nafissa, Abbes Abdelkarim, Schiffers Bruno, Glida-Gnidez Habiba


Pesticides are commonly applied in market gardening to improve productivity and pest control. Pesticide residues could be persistent in vegetables and generate a potential health hazard for consumers. This study has been carried out in Tunisia to assess the perceived risk of consumers exposed to pesticide residues remaining in vegetables. Two surveys with different questionnaires were conducted among 30 market gardeners and 50 households located in the Djebeniana delegation (Sfax governorate, Tunisia) in order to analyze the phytosanitary practices of farmers on the one hand, and to better understand the attitude related to vegetable consumption and awareness on pesticide residues, on the other hand. The results revealed that various phytosanitary products have been used by market gardeners (43 commercial products containing 39 different active substances (AS)). Among these AS, abamectin and methomyl are considered as highly hazardous according the WHO classification. According to the behavior of pesticides in plants, more than half of the AS. (54%) are systemic and can be absorbed by the plant and moved around in its tissues. Furthermore, the majority of the surveyed farmers had never undergone agricultural training, which is a real handicap with respect to good phytosanitary practices. After applying pesticides, the pre-harvest interval was regularly not respected by almost half of the interviewed market gardeners. In addition, the study showed that all consumers washed their vegetables before consumption, but more than half of the respondents (54%) wash their vegetables for less than a minute (simply passing them under running water). In the light of these results, it appears that consumers may be exposed to pesticide residues from vegetables on the Tunisian market, with potential effects on their health.


vegetables; pesticide residues; market gardeners; consumers; risk perception

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ISSN: 2148-127X

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