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Legislation concerning pesticides in environmental waters is primarily set by the WFD (2000/60/EC). For surface waters, environmental quality standards (EQSs) are set in the EQS Directive (2008/105/EC), as updated by the Priority Substances Directive (2013/39/EU). EQSs are based on substances’ toxicity to or via the aquatic environment. There are 45 priority substances (or groups of substances); these include a limited number of pesticides. Member States can also identify ‘river basin specific pollutants’ for which they set the EQS. For groundwater, the Groundwater Directive (2006/118/EC), as updated by Directive 2014/80/EU, sets a common quality standard of 0.1 ug/L for any individual pesticide.

Within the European Green Deal, the EU set targets for reducing the use of and risk from chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030 in the zero pollution action plan, the farm to fork strategy and the biodiversity strategy, with a focus on improving and protecting ecosystems and biodiversity.

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