Kolkata: Even as the European Union late last week decided to no longer permit sales of the widely used insecticide chlorpyrifos after January 31, 2020, in India, the insecticide's residues in fruit and vegetables are still found to be above safety limits by the National Institute of Occupational Health.
Chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl have been identified as possible causes of neurological damage in children.
After a vote last Friday by its 28 member states, the European Union said that the risks of exposure to the chemical were of particular concern when it came to children's health.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide (OP), banned in America for non-agricultural use. Ironically, several studies have found that OPs are indiscriminately being used in India even on fruit and vegetables, for which they have not been approved.
Different studies suggest that chlorpyrifos is the fourth most used pesticide in India and due to indiscriminate use of chlorpyrifos and other chemicals for agriculture and termite treatment of the foundations of new buildings, the air, drinking water, milk, fruit & vegetables contain chlorpyrifos, endosulfan, DDT, HCH, other organochloride and organophosphate pesticide residues much above the limits set by the World Health Organization.
For instance, last year, scientists at the National Institute of Nutrition Hyderabad had done a study on urine samples of children for presence of OPs. The study revealed that samples contained 10 to 40 times more OPs compared to their counterparts in the US and Europe. This means that Indian children are more prone to the risks of organophosphates exposure.
A separate study by Anand Agriculture University (AAU) and the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), Ahmedabad also found toxic residues in vegetables and 817 samples collected from the market, farms and organic produce. The pesticide residues were detected in 24.3 per cent of farm gate samples, 26.8 per cent of market samples and 1.7 per cent of organic samples.
Chlorpyrifos was among the most commonly found pesticides. In samples of pulses, chlorpyrifos residues were found to be above safety limits in green gram.