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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Apr 1;40(7):2448-54.

New risk assessment approach for systemic insecticides: the case of honey bees and imidacloprid (Gaucho).

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Centre d'Etude et de Recherche du Médicament de Normandie, 5 rue Vaubenard, 14032 Caen, France.


The procedure to assess the risk posed by systemic insecticides to honey bees follows the European Directives and depends on the determination of the Hazard Quotient (HQ), though this parameter is not adapted to these molecules. This paper describes a new approach to assess more specifically the risk posed by systemic insecticides to honey bees with the example of imidacloprid (Gaucho). This approach is based on the new and existing chemical substances Directive in which levels of exposure (PEC, Predicted Exposure Concentration) and toxicity (PNEC, Predicted No Effect Concentration) are compared. PECs are determined for different categories of honey bees in relation to the amounts of contaminated pollen and nectar they might consume. PNECs are calculated from data on acute, chronic, and sublethal toxicities of imidacloprid to honey bees, to which selected assessment factors are applied. Results highlight a risk for all categories of honey bees, in particular for hive bees. These data are discussed in the light of field observations made on honey bee mortalities and disappearances. New perspectives are given to better determine the risk posed by systemic insecticides to honey bees.

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