Limitations in the determination of maximum residue limits and highest residues of pesticides: Part I

Zsuzsanna Horváth, Judit Sali, Andrea Zentai, Eniko Dorogházi, Zsuzsa Farkas, Kata Kerekes, Árpád Ambrus

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The pesticide usages are controlled by comparing residue concentrations in treated commodities to legally permitted maximum levels (MRLs) determined based on supervised trials designed to reflect likely maximum residues occurring in practice following authorised use. The number of trials available may significantly affect the accuracy of estimated maximum residues. We conducted a study with synthetic lognormal distributions with mean of 1 and standard deviations of 0.8 and 1.0, which reflect the residue distributions observed in practice. The likely residues in samples were modelled by drawing random samples of size 3, 5, 10 and 25 from the synthetic populations. The results indicate that the estimations of highest residues (HR), used for calculation of short-term intake, and the MRLs, serving as legal limits, are very uncertain based on 3-5 trials indicated by the calculated HR0.975/HR0.025 and MRL0.975/MRL0.025 ratios of 12 and 9, and 13 and 10, respectively, which question the suitability of such trials for the intended purpose. As the 95% range of HR and MRL rapidly decreases with number of trials, ideally ≥15 but minimum 6-8 trials should be used for estimation of HR and MRL according to the current typical practice of Codex Alimentarius.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-152
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part B Pesticides, Food Contaminants, and Agricultural Wastes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2014


  • Pesticide residues
  • dietary exposure
  • maximum residue levels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Pollution

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