Estimating pesticides in public drinking water at the household level in Denmark

Denitza D. Voutchkova, Jörg Schullehner, Carina Skaarup, Kirstine Wodschow, Annette Kjær Ersbøll, Birgitte Hansen

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    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Pesticide pollution has raised public concern in Denmark due to potential negative health impacts and frequent findings of new substances after a recent expansion of the groundwater monitoring programme. Danish drinking water comes entirely from groundwater. Both the raw groundwater and the treated drinking water are regularly monitored, and the chemical analyses are reported to a publicly available national database (Jupiter). Based on these data, in this study we (1) provide a status of pesticide content in drinking water supplied by public waterworks in Denmark and (2) assess the proportion of Danish households exposed to pesticides from drinking water. ‘Pesticides’ here refers also to their metabolites, degradation and reaction products. The cleaned dataset represents 3004 public waterworks distributed throughout the country and includes 39 798 samples of treated drinking water analysed for 449 pesticides (971 723 analyses total) for the period 2002–2019. Of all these chemical analyses, 0.5% (n = 4925) contained a quantified pesticide (>0.03 µg/l). Pesticides were found at least once in the treated drinking water at 29% of all sampled public waterworks for the period 2002–2019 and at 21% of the waterworks for the recent period 2015–2019. We estimate that 56% of all Danish households were potentially exposed at least once to pesticides in drinking water at concentrations of 0.03–4.00 µg/l between 2002 and 2019. However, in 2015–2019, the proportion of the Danish households exposed to pesticides (0.03–4.00 µg/l) was 41%. The proportion of Danish households potentially exposed at least once to pesticides above the maximum allowed concentration (0.1 µg/l) according to the EU Drinking Water Directive (and the Danish drinking water standard) was 19% for 2002–2019 and 11% for 2015–2019. However, the maximum concentrations were lower than the World Health Organization’s compound-specific guidelines. Lastly, we explore data complexity and dis-cuss the limitations imposed by data heterogeneity to facilitate future epi-demiological studies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number6090
    Number of pages16
    JournalGEUS Bulletin
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021


    • Denmark
    • Drinking water
    • Exposure
    • Pesticides
    • Public waterworks

    Programme Area

    • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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