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Gezondheidsverkenning omwonenden van landbouwpercelen.

Simoes, M, Brouwer, M., Krop, E., Huss, A., Vermeulen, R., Baliatsas, C., IJzermans, J., Verheij, R., Janssen, N., Marra, M., Wijga, A., Rietveld, A.G. Gezondheidsverkenning omwonenden van landbouwpercelen. Bilthoven: Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu, 2018. 200 p.
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People living in the direct vicinity of agricultural plots may be exposed to the pesticides used and concerns have arisen regarding the possible effects of these pesticides on their health. RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment), Utrecht University and NIVEL (Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research) have therefore carried out a survey of the health of people in this category.

Data on the actual exposure to pesticides of people living in the direct vicinity agricultural plots were not available for this survey, so the researchers looked at whether there was a link between data on the diseases and conditions suffered by residents and the distance of their homes from agricultural plots and the surface area of nearby crops. In general, no clear links were found between health and the proximity of agricultural plots. People who live nearer to agricultural plots even appeared slightly healthier than people who live further away, generally speaking, although this could have to do with lifestyle. In contrast with this general picture, a higher mortality due to conditions relating to the airways was found among people living in the proximity of fields where maize was cultivated. We are unable to say whether the use of pesticides was the cause.

A number of conditions in people living in the proximity of agricultural plots that did not show a consistent link with the quantity or proximity of specific crops were seen as noteworthy but require further research. These were a higher birth weight among babies born to people living near summer barley fields, Parkinson's disease and eye irritation among people living near fruit orchards and leukaemia among people living near plots where grains, beetroot and potatoes are rotated.

We recommend the analysis of whether the higher mortality due to conditions relating to the airways near fields where maize is cultivated is linked to the use of pesticides and/or other factors such as particulate matter. We also recommend that the other crops and conditions mentioned are investigated further to establish whether there are any actual links between them. It would, moreover, be advisable to examine the pesticides that can be used to protect the crops mentioned and whether the harmful properties of these substances can be linked to the conditions suffered. Finally, the researchers recommend that any conditions that have not been included in this survey, but that require attention, be identified and indications given regarding how they could be studied.

In parallel with this survey, RIVM is coordinating a study into the actual exposure to pesticides of people living in the direct vicinity of agricultural plots. The first results of this study are expected later this year. The results of the exposure study and of this survey will serve as the requisite guidelines for follow-up research. (aut. ref.)