An assessment of health risks posed by consumption of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables among residents in the Kampala Metropolitan Area in Uganda

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Abstract

Background: Pesticide use for fruits and vegetable production in Uganda may result in presence of residues on produce which may pose health risks to consumers. Uganda does not have an established system for monitoring pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables and assessing potential health risks. This research aimed to conduct a health risk assessment of presence of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables in the Kampala Metropolitan Area in Uganda. Method: Pesticides were measured in 160 fruits and vegetables samples collected at farms, markets, street vendors, restaurants and homes; and analysed using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Fruit and vegetable consumption information was collected from 2177 people. Pesticide concentrations were compared with European Union maximum residual limits (MRLs). Mean values of pesticide concentration residues found in the sample of fruits and vegetables; and fruits and vegetables intake and body weight were used to calculate the estimated daily intake (EDI) of pesticide residues. EDI values were compared with acceptable daily intakes (ADI) to calculate the hazard quotient by age group, and stage at which consumption happens along the chain. Results: Overall, 57 pesticides were detected in fruits and vegetables from farm to fork. Of the 57, 39 pesticides were detected in all the fruits and vegetables studied. Concentrations of fonofos, fenitrothion and fenhexamid were above the European Union MRLs in some samples. Hazard quotients based on dietary ingestion scenarios for 18 pesticides, including dichlorvos (444) alanycarb (314), fonofos (68), fenitrothion (62), dioxacarb (55) and benfuracarb (24) and others, were above 1, indicating the possibility of chronic health risk to consumers. Chronic health risk decreased with age but was stable for stage at which consumption happens along the food chain. The number of pesticides with EDI greater than the ADI decreased with increase in age; with 18, 13, 9, 11, 8, 9, and 9 pesticides for age groups < 5, 5-12, 13-19, 20-25, 36-49 and ≥ 50 respectively. Conclusion: Chronic dietary pesticide exposures to Ugandans are likely common, and for some pesticides result in exposure exceeding health-based benchmarks. Risks were highest for younger participants. There is an urgent need to increase monitoring and regulation of pesticides in fruits and vegetables in order to protect consumers, especially the children who are vulnerable to the adverse effects of pesticides.

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Ssemugabo, C., Bradman, A., Ssempebwa, J. C., Sillé, F., & Guwatudde, D. (2022). An assessment of health risks posed by consumption of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables among residents in the Kampala Metropolitan Area in Uganda. International Journal of Food Contamination, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40550-022-00090-9

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