Expert Units

There are five expert units in PRCD consisting of the Chemistry Unit, Ecotoxicology Unit, Efficacy Unit, Environmental Chemistry Unit and Toxicology Unit.  These units are made up of Agricultural Scientists, Biologists, Micro-biologists, Chemists, Ecotoxicologists and Toxicologists.

Pesticide active substances are scientifically evaluated by each of the expert units and a report produced.  This report is then peer reviewed by experts in all Member States and by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), depending on whether the active substance is to be used in a plant protection product (PPP) or a biocidal product (BP).  A decision is then reached as to whether or not to approve the active substance for use in the EU.

If the pesticide active substance is approved for use, evaluations of individual products containing that active substance are undertaken by the expert units before they are allowed to be placed on the Irish market.

The members of the various expert units strive to ensure that the pesticide is effective, and also safe for end users, operators, consumers, wildlife and the environment.

The work of each expert unit is summarised below, more details are available by clicking on the relevant links.

  • Chemistry Unit For both plant protection products and biocidal products, the Chemistry unit evaluates the identity of the active substance, the physical & chemical properties (e.g. flammability), the analytical methodology and the storage stability or shelf life. In addition, for plant protection products, metabolism and residue trials are evaluated, and a thorough consumer risk assessment is also carried out to ensure the use of the product is safe for the consumer.
  • Ecotoxicology Unit – The ecotoxicology unit evaluates the environmental risks of chemicals used in plant protection products and biocidal products. This evaluation assesses the risks to the environment (ecotoxicology) from exposure to these products.
  • Efficacy Unit The efficacy unit is responsible for assessing plant protection products and biocidal products to determine that product label instructions for correct usage are clear to consumers, label claims are accurate, and that the benefit from using such products is balanced against the risks their uses pose to humans and the environment. Links: Plant Protection Product efficacy & Biocidal Product efficacy.
  • Environmental Chemistry unit – The environmental chemistry unit assesses the environmental fate and behaviour of the pesticide. The unit also predicts the levels of environmental exposure that may arise in soil and in non-target areas such as groundwater, surface water and sediment from the intended use of the pesticide using computer models. This information is used to inform risk assessments performed by other specialist units such as ecotoxicology.
  • Toxicology Unit – The toxicology unit evaluates the risks of chemicals used in biocidal products and plant protection products. This evaluation assesses the risks for humans (human health or mammalian toxicology) from exposure to these products.

All evaluations are carried out according to strict EU regulations, and are subject to peer review by experts at EU level before they are approved.