Québec Pesticide Risk Indicator : QPRI : Health and Environment

The Québec Pesticide Risk Indicator, identified by the acronym QPRI, is a diagnostic and decision-making tool designed to optimize pesticide management. It has a health component (QPRI-Health) and an environment component (QPRI-Environment).

This tool was developed through a comparison of pesticide risk indicators found in scientific literature. The selection and definition of criteria for the indicator are the result of close collaboration among :

  • le ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ)
  • le ministère du Développement durable,de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP)
  • l’Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ)

Both versions (2001 and 2004) of the approach recommended by the Norwegian Minister of Agriculture served as models for developing the QPRI, particularly its environment component. The health component had to be created from new criteria established by INSPQ, as no comparable system existed to date in Québec for the classification of toxicological data.

The health and environment components of the QPRI enable us to establish a situational and progressive diagnostic of the risks of using pesticides at different levels.

At the farmer’s level : 

  • Facilitates the choice of the least hazardous pesticides for human and environmental health

At the organizational or sectoral level :

  • Analysis of changes in risks linked to pesticides used by an organization or in an activity sector (e.g., vegetable farm, orchard, landscaping business, golf course)
  • Consideration of risks linked to pesticides in seasonal planning of phytosanitary initiatives and strategies to fight against crop pests

At the provincial level :

  • Production of health and environmental risk trend indicators associated with pesticide use or sales
  • Evaluation and monitoring of the impact of various pesticide risk mitigation measures

The QPRI also enables spatial and temporal monitoring of risks associated with pesticide use. In an integrated pest management effort, the QPRI identifies the risks associated with pesticides and promotes the identification of solutions to reduce these risks.

This toxicological risk indicator was developed by INSPQ. It draws on acute and chronic pesticide toxicity indexes and integrates their bioavailability potential. Furthermore, it takes into account some particularities of end-use products instead of relying exclusively on characteristics of the active ingredients. Thus, variables such as active ingredient concentration, formulation type, the application rate of end-use products and application techniques are considered in the determination of the QPRI-Health.

This indicator of ecotoxicological risk and potential environmental impacts was jointly developed by MAPAQ and MDDEP. It takes into account the properties of pesticides that determine their environmental fate and behavior, as well as their ecotoxicological potential (that is, their toxic effects on many animal and plant species).

The following parameters are considered in the determination of an environmental risk indicator:

  • Impact on terrestrial invertebrates
  • Impact on birds
  • Impact on aquatic organisms
  • Mobility
  • Persistence in soil
  • Bioaccumulation potential

In addition, the QPRI-Environment considers some characteristics linked to end-use products, such as application rate and type of crop.

Onil Samuel
B. Sc., expert et conseiller scientifique, Institut national de santé publique du Québec
Louis St-Laurent
M. Sc., conseiller scientifique, Institut national de santé publique du Québec
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