Assessment of pesticide residues in tomatoes and watermelons (fruits) from markets in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
This study investigated the levels of pesticide residues in selected fruits from major markets in Dar es Salaam city. Samples of tomatoes and watermelons were analysed for eighteen organochlorine, organophosphorus and pyrethroid pesticide residues. Extraction was performed using acetone followed by dichloromethane: cyclohexane mixture and the extracts were cleanedup using florisil. The compounds were determined by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Pesticides and metabolites were detected in 95.8% of the samples. The compounds detected included chlorpyrifos, α-endosulfan, β-endosulfan and cypermethrin and their highest concentrations were 3810 ± 50, 370 ± 20, 120 ± 6 and 50 ± 4 ng/g, respectively. Others were p,p'- DDD, o,p'-DDD, p,p'-DDE and α-HCH with highest concentrations varying from 1 ± 0.5 to 20 ± 1.2 ng/g. There were no significant variations in concentrations of the pesticide residues between the fruits and among the sampling sites, indicating similarities in contamination patterns. The concentrations of the contaminants were above the maximum residue limits (MRLs) in 41.7% to 50% of the tomatoes and watermelons indicating risks and concerns for public health. The Tanzanian agrochemicals and food regulatory agencies (e.g. TPRI, TFDA and TBS) and the government in general should ensure strict applications of laws that regulate pesticides in the country and develop effective educational programmes for farmers to apply good agricultural practices such as reducing the use of pesticides, applying appropriate pesticides and doses, and restrict the spray before harvesting. The consumers should thoroughly wash or process the fruits to reduce the levels.
Keywords: Pesticides, Fruits, Food, Contamination, Tanzania