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Management of pesticides in the United Arab Emirates

W.Kaakeh, M. Maraqa,M. Hasan,M. Al-Marzouqi.

A total of 835 pesticides are registered in the UAE with insecticide products having the greatest share of use at about 50%. This study showed that the average amount of pesticides used in the UAE is about 10 kg per hectare per year, which is much higher than the corresponding values reported in India, USA and Europe but comparable to that reported in Japan. The number of pesticide poisoning as reported by two main hospitals in Al Ain, UAE in 1999 reached 246 cases of adults and 298 cases of children. None of these pesticides exposure was fatal and less than 10% of the cases needed hospitalization. Many poisoning problems, however may have not been reported to the hospitals and the data may have been skewed. This study also focused on the potential leaching of used pesticides to UAE groundwaters. It was found that 3 out of 11 pesticides that are widely used in the UAE have the potential to leach to groundwater due to their solubility that exceeded the US EPA threshold values. Five pesticides have the potential to leach due to their low vapor pressure and four pesticides possibly leach to underground water due to their weak sorption to the soil. Metalaxyl is the single pesticide that exceeded all threshold values set for leaching, indicating a high potential to reach groundwater. The high field dissipating rates of cymoxanil and dimethoate may prevent substantial amount of these pesticides to reach groundwater. From a regulatory standpoint, pesticides are among the most regulated chemical products in UAE. All pesticides that pose high risk to human health and environment are banned in the UAE. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries imposes strict restrictions on the amount of pesticides imported and used, as well as the amount of their residues that are allowed in the environment. Greatly lacking is a sound management program for pesticide application in the UAE. Recommendations are presented in relation to the selective use and application of pesticides that may lead to a reduction in pesticide use in the country.

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