Unit Residues and Analytical Methods
The unit primarily assesses the health risks of pesticides in foods of plant and animal origin for consumers as well as the health risks of feed in order to ensure that the use of plant protection products and biocidal products does not pose a threat to health. If necessary, the assessment also takes other relevant exposure pathways, such as drinking water, into account.
The assessments are completed as a statutory task based on the laws on plant protection products and chemicals within the context of the regulatory approval, licensing and assessment procedures for pesticides. This is carried out in line with the EU Regulations on plant protection products and biocides, as well as in the context of the stipulation and monitoring of maximum residue concentrations.
The following aspects have to be assessed:
- Metabolism in plants of the substances contained in the products, and, in the case of intake by production animals, also in animals;
- The level of residues that occur under the intended application conditions in consumable plant and animal products;
- The effects on the type and level of residues in the raw products of industrial processing and household preparation ;
- The potential for carryover of residues to neighbouring crops;
- The level of residues that consumers ingest with their food or via other pathways (exposure estimation);
- The health risk for consumers posed by short- and long-term exposure to residues (risk assessment);
- Whether potential residues in food and feed can be monitored with the necessary sensitivity in environmental matrices and in bodily fluids and tissues using analytical methods that are in line with the current state of the scientific art.
Assessments take the form of scientific opinions, contributions to substance monographs, commentaries and assessment reports. The results of residue tests are put into the internal BfR database RUEDIS II (residue information system). Proposals for maximum residue concentrations are drafted and reviewed. Following their transposition into European law, these results form the basis for routine monitoring in the European Union; the responsibility for routine monitoring in Germany lies with the federal states.
Additionally, the unit is involved in the further development of testing methods as well as testing and assessment strategies for consumer safety. It represents the BfR on specialised issues in numerous national and international bodies and advises the German government on questions related to the assessment and analysis of pesticide residues, as well as the stipulation of maximum concentrations for pesticides.