An RIVM study shows that around 20 per cent of pesticides on sale in the Netherlands contain ‘Dutch Substances of Very High Concern’ (ZZS). These substances can harm the environment as well as public health. Both the Netherlands and the European Union are working to keep the presence of these substances in the environment to a minimum. In the Netherlands, businesses are bound by certain regulations when it comes to the emission of ZZS. The use of pesticides is subject to EU regulations. These regulations ban some substances of concern or stipulate that they must be replaced. However, the definitions of what constitutes a substance of concern in a pesticide and what constitutes an ZZS are not exactly the same. RIVM therefore recommends harmonising the definitions of these substances. This will make the regulations clearer, so that it becomes easier for countries and producers to comply with them.
Incidence of ZZS in pesticides
The current RIVM study shows that around 20 per cent of pesticides on sale in the Netherlands contain ZZS. Another 10 per cent or so contain substances that are suspected of being ZZS, while around 5 per cent contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
These are mainly additives: substances that are required for the pesticide to work. In any case, all authorised pesticides are safe, provided the directions for use are complied with.
Reducing the differences between Dutch and EU policy
To a certain extent, the Dutch ZZS policy focuses on the same substances of concern as the authorisation policy for pesticides, but there are differences as well. For example, the definitions of what constitutes a substance of concern in a pesticide and what constitutes an ZZS differ slightly. This means that the same substance is sometimes treated as a substance of concern and sometimes not. To help minimise the presence in the environment of all substances of concern, and to make things clearer for both producers and EU Member States, the definitions and regulations for these substances should be harmonised across the EU and the related policy frameworks.
RIVM recommends a closer alignment between the various definitions of what constitutes a substance of concern. In addition, RIVM recommends conducting an investigation into the amounts in which pesticides containing ZZS are being used.
What are ZZS?
ZZS are substances that are a cause for alarm, for example because they are carcinogenic or accumulate in the food chain. There is a Dutch list of these substances. The use of ZZS is not prohibited.
RIVM conducted this study on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.