Agricultural Pesticide Usage and Prioritization in South Korea

Eun Shil Cha, Mihye Jeong, Won Jin Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to review agricultural pesticide usage and trends and to identify hazardous pesticides for regulation, in terms of public health, in South Korea. The authors collected data on usage and trends of agricultural pesticides through agriculture-related databases. Criteria from the US Environmental Protection Agency classification for carcinogenicity, World Health Organization classification for acute toxicity, and European Union prioritization list for endocrine-disrupting chemicals were used for the hazard categorization of identified individual active ingredients. Pesticides to be prioritized among all pesticides used in South Korea between 2007 and 2011 were selected by taking into account the volume of usage, toxicity, and epidemiological evidence. Annual agricultural use of pesticides has increased rapidly from the 1970s to 1990s in South Korea, but has declined since 2001. The quantity of pesticides used in 2011 was reported as 19,131 tons, and was comprised of 34.7% insecticides, 28.0% fungicides, and 27.1% herbicides. The 50 pesticides with the greatest volume of usage accounted for 82.6% of the total volume of pesticides used between 2007 and 2011, with the most-used active ingredient being machine oil, followed by mancozeb and then paraquat. Organophosphates were the most used among the top 50 pesticides. A total of 24 pesticides were selected for recommendation of intensive regulation in South Korea. In conclusion, the authors described the usage and trends of overall agricultural pesticides, which would serve as a fundamental step forward in managing pesticide in terms of public health. Intensive efforts are required for the prevention of potential health effects from the 24 identified pesticides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-293
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (No. 2010-0021742).


  • Agriculture
  • exposure
  • farmers
  • pesticides
  • prioritization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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