Presence of pesticide residues on produce cultivated in Suriname
Agricultural pesticides are widely used in Suriname, an upper middle-income Caribbean country located in South America. Suriname imported 1.8 million kg of agricultural pesticides in 2015. So far, however, national monitoring of pesticides in crops is absent. Reports from the Netherlands on imported Surinamese produce from 2010 to 2015 consistently showed that samples exceeded plant-specific pesticide maximum residue limits (MRLs) of the European Union (EU). Consumption of produce containing unsafe levels of pesticide residues can cause neurological disorders, and particularly, pregnant women and children may be vulnerable. This pilot study assessed the presence of pesticide residues in commonly consumed produce items cultivated in Suriname. Thirty-two insecticides (organophosphates, organochlorines, carbamates, and pyrethroids) and 12 fungicides were evaluated for their levels in nine types of produce. Pesticide residue levels exceeding MRLs in this study regarded cypermethrin (0.32 μg/g) in tomatoes (USA MRL 0.20 μg/g), lambda-cyhalothrin (1.08 μg/g) in Chinese cabbage (USA MRL 0.40 μg/g), endosulfan (0.07 μg/g) in tannia (EU MRL 0.05 μg/g), and lindane (0.02 and 0.03 μg/g, respectively) in tannia (EU MRL 0.01 μg/g). While only a few pesticide residues were detected in this small pilot study, these residues included two widely banned pesticides (endosulfan and lindane). There is a need to address environmental policy gaps. A more comprehensive sampling and analysis of produce from Suriname is warranted to better understand the scope of the problem. Preliminary assessments, using intake rate, hazard quotient, and level of concern showed that it is unlikely that daily consumption of tannia leads to adverse health effects.