The paper examines the issue of bound residues from the viewpoint of the risk assessment procedures employed for environmental protection. It considers, on one hand, the evidence that such residues are so tightly bound to soil organic matter as to be essentially unavailable; and on the other, the perspective that we should not be loading up the environment with compounds whose future behaviour and release we cannot predict. Existing knowledge of the mechanisms by which residues bind to soil organic matter suggests that release will be closely dependent on soil organic matter breakdown. Simple models of organic matter turnover suggest that the release following single applications of individual compounds will be very slow; but the significance of releases following repeated application over many years of a number of compounds needs to be investigated further. Applying environmental risk assessment techniques is complicated by the difficulty in identifying parent molecules and potential metabolites in the bound residue fraction. The paper concludes that for single additions of individual compounds, bound residues probably do represent an environmental solution. But the long-term significance of bound residues formed from multiple additions of a number of compounds is less clear. The paper recommends that future work should emphasise the biological significance of such residues and their release. Crown Copyright © 2004 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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