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Approaches for regulating water in South Africa for the presence of pesticides

L London, MA Dalvie, A Nowicki, E Cairncross


The public health significance of pesticide pollution of water sources in South Africa has received little attention from policy-makers and regulators, unlike microbiological quality of potable water. This anomaly is reflected in the current legislation in South Africa which is marked by inadequate regulatory standards for pesticides in water. Due to high costs, technical constraints and shortage of laboratory skills for pesticide analyses in South Africa, the poor regulatory framework has no monitoring data on which to base policy. In contrast, international experience in setting standards for maximum permissible levels of pesticides in water is extensive. The different approaches used by the World Health Organisation, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union are outlined, as well as the assumptions underlying these different approaches. Drawing on these models, recommendations are made as to how to integrate concerns for pesticide safety in environmental regulation and risk assessment in South Africa. Such measures would ensure consistency with recent developments in environmental management in South Africa that give primacy to a number of key environmental policy principles. A public health perspective should ensure that growing international concerns for longterm adverse health and environmental impacts arising from the presence of pesticides in water are adequately addressed in regulatory controls in South Africa.
Key words: Water regulation, standards, pesticides, health
Water SA Vol.31(1) 2005: 53-60
AJOL African Journals Online