Organisms are frequently exposed to mixtures of chemical contaminants in the environment, causing a potential "cocktail effect", or combined effect. The joint action of different molecules with similar or different modes of action could result in a potentially unlimited number of additives, synergistic or antagonistic combinations. Since the large number of contaminants makes it impossible to perform ecotoxicity tests for each potential mixture, a robust approach for prospective environmental risk assessment of chemical mixtures is needed.A number of recent publications by the European Commission and the authorities in charge prove the increasing interest that is spreading in the European community towards the topic of the assessment of chemical mixtures.The current EU regulation for Plant Protection Products authorization (Reg. 1107/2009 EC) explicitly requires the evaluation of the potential combined effects of active substances.We reviewed current methods and limitations of mixture assessment of pesticides (7 fungicides and 4 herbicides) through the analysis of the approaches adopted to investigate possible risks for different non-target organisms.The Concentration Addition (CA) approach was the most used approach to predict multiple toxicity to non-target organisms. The guidance for birds and mammals first introduced standard procedures to assess the multiple toxicity based on on CA concept. The recent aquatic EFSA guidance introduced some requirements to evaluate potential mixture toxicity, while the current guidance requirements for terrestrial organisms still lack clear indications on how to conduct the assessment. Moreover, new indications come from the draft guidance for the assessment of terrestrial plants and in-soil organisms. However, the approval and implementation of these new guidelines are still at a developmental stage.Some final considerations are drawn on the future possibilities to improve risk assessment procedures so as to identify harmful effects of pesticides mixtures on non-target organisms.
- Combined exposure
- Ecological risk assessment
- Environmental Chemistry
- Environmental Engineering
- Waste Management and Disposal