Pesticide Risk Indicators: Unidentified Inert Ingredients Compromise Their Integrity and Utility

Environ Manage. 2010 Apr;45(4):834-41. doi: 10.1007/s00267-009-9382-9. Epub 2010 Feb 24.


Pesticide Risk Indicators (PRIs) are widely used to evaluate and compare the potential health and environmental risks of pesticide use and to guide pest control policies and practices. They are applied to agricultural, landscape and structural pest management by governmental agencies, private institutions and individuals. PRIs typically assess only the potential risks associated with the active ingredients because, with few exceptions, pesticide manufacturers disclose only the identity of the active ingredients which generally comprise only a minor portion of pesticide products. We show that when inert ingredients are identified and assessed by the same process as the active ingredient, the product specific risk can be much greater than that calculated for the active ingredient alone. To maintain transparency in risk assessment, all those who develop and apply PRIs or make decisions based on their output, should clearly disclose and discuss the limitations of the method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Pollutants / chemistry*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Pest Control* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Pest Control* / methods
  • Pest Control* / standards
  • Pesticides / chemistry*
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Pesticides