Cumulative health risk assessment of pesticide residues in apple products in the Northwest of Iran using Monte Carlo simulation

Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2023 Aug;40(8):992-1010. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2023.2232876. Epub 2023 Jul 10.


Pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables cause serious health issues, especially among children. This research was carried out to monitor and evaluate the risks of organophosphate pesticide residues in Maragheh County apple products from 2020. The Monte Carlo Simulation approach (MCS) was used to evaluate the non-cancerous effects of exposure to pesticide residues in adults and children. Apple samples were taken every two weeks at the Maragheh central market during the summer and fall months. In this study, seventeen pesticide residues in 30 apple samples were estimated using a modified QuECheRS extraction technique coupled with GC/MS. Of the seventeen organophosphate pesticides, thirteen were identified as pesticide residues (76.47%). The highest concentration found in the apple samples was associated with chlorpyrifos pesticide at 1.05 mg/kg. Pesticide residues exceeding the maximum residue limits (MRLs) were found in 100% of apple specimens, and more than 75% of the samples contained ten or more pesticide residues. Approximately 45%-80% of pesticide residues on apple samples were removed after washing and peeling. Chlorpyrifos pesticide had the highest health quotient (HQ) for men, women, and children with values of 0.046, 0.054, and 0.23, respectively. Cumulative risk assessment (CRA) of non-carcinogenic effects indicates that there is no significant health risk in the adult age group from apple consumption (HI < 1). Nevertheless, children are at high non-cancer risk from eating unwashed apples (HI = 1.3). This finding shows that high levels of pesticide residues in apple samples, especially unwashed apples, can be a serious concern for the health of children. To better protect consumer health, continuous and regular monitoring, strict regulations, training, and awareness of farmers, especially control pre-harvest interval (PHI) is recommended.

Keywords: Apple; Iran; Monte Carlo simulation; pesticide; risk assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Chlorpyrifos* / adverse effects
  • Chlorpyrifos* / analysis
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Malus*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Organophosphates
  • Pesticide Residues* / adverse effects
  • Pesticides* / adverse effects
  • Pesticides* / analysis
  • Risk Assessment


  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pesticides
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Organophosphates