Pesticide Research on Environmental and Human Exposure and Risks in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Literature Review

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

On the African continent, ongoing agriculture intensification is accompanied by the increasing use of pesticides, associated with environmental and public health concerns. Using a systematic literature review, we aimed to map current geographical research hotspots and gaps around environmental and public health risks research of agriculture pesticides in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Studies were included that collected primary data on past and current-used agricultural pesticides and assessed their environmental occurrence, related knowledge, attitude and practice, human exposure, and environmental or public health risks between 2006 and 2021. We identified 391 articles covering 469 study sites in 37 countries in SSA. Five geographical research hotspots were identified: two in South Africa, two in East Africa, and one in West Africa. Despite its ban for agricultural use, organochlorine was the most studied pesticide group (60%; 86% of studies included DDT). Current-used pesticides in agriculture were studied in 54% of the study sites (including insecticides (92%), herbicides (44%), and fungicides (35%)). Environmental samples were collected in 67% of the studies (e.g., water, aquatic species, sediment, agricultural produce, and air). In 38% of the studies, human subjects were investigated. Only few studies had a longitudinal design or assessed pesticide’s environmental risks; human biomarkers; dose-response in human subjects, including children and women; and interventions to reduce pesticide exposure. We established a research database that can help stakeholders to address research gaps, foster research collaboration between environmental and health dimensions, and work towards sustainable and safe agriculture systems in SSA.