Preliminary risk assessment of common-use pesticides using PRIMET and PERPEST pesticide risk models in a semi-arid subtropical region

  • W Malherbe
  • JHJ van Vuren
  • V Wepener
Keywords: pesticides, PRIMET, PERPEST, Vaalharts


The pesticide risk in agriculture in developing countries has not been adequately studied due to the extent and fate of pesticides in the environment often being unknown. South Africa is a country that has significant pressure on its freshwater and agricultural resources, which increases the possibility of pesticide effects. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the use of the PRIMET (Pesticide Risks in the Tropics to Man, Environment and Trade) and PERPEST (Predicting the Ecological Risk of PESTicides) models to predict pesticide exposure and effects on aquatic ecosystems due to spray drift. Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme is situated in the Northern Cape Province and receives water from the Vaal River for 43 000 ha of agricultural land. Crops in the area mostly consist of wheat, maize and groundnuts. Data gathered through household surveys with farmers were used in PRIMET as a first-tier estimate of the potential risk of the pesticides. The Predicted Effect Concentrations (PEC) calculated for the pesticides indicating a possible to definite risk were then used as input for PERPEST. PERPEST is a higher-tier model that predicts the potential effects of a pesticide on various grouped endpoints in the aquatic environment. The PRIMET results indicated most pesticides posed no risk to the environment, except the pyrethroid, deltamethrin. The ETR for  deltamethrin indicated a possible to definite risk to the aquatic environment. The PERPEST results for deltamethrin indicated a high probability of clear effects on insects, micro- and macro-crustacean communities, with a lower probability for rotifers, algae, macrophytes and fish. PRIMET and PERPEST provided valid estimates of risk for pesticides and could be used effectively in South Africa.

Keywords: pesticides, PRIMET, PERPEST, Vaalharts


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eISSN: 0378-4738