European science project shows that every third person has pesticide residues in their hair

In the beginning of the summer STEP got involved in the Pan-European Pesticide Check-up campaign, organized by the “Good Food, Good Farming” initiative and partners coalition. During the campaign were collected hair samples from people of different EU countries. These samples were tested for 30 different pesticides.

Between May and August, 300 people from across Europe participated in the citizen science project to get their hair tested for pesticide residues. The independent laboratory EXPOZOM analyzed the samples to sum them in a report, which we can already share with you.

See the full report here


  • Nearly every third person (29%) had residues of at least one pesticide in their hair. 25 out of the 30 sampled substances were detected.
  • Farmers, farm workers and people living in rural areas usually had higher concentrations of pesticides in their hair.
  • The top 3 pesticides detected were: the herbicide Prosulfocarb, the fungicide Tebuconazol and the insecticide Acetamiprid.

Although the results are not representative for the overall EU population due to the small sample size, our findings show a clear trend and are in line with empirical studies (see e.g. Schleiffer & Speiser 2022 and Boedeker et al. 2020).


Pesticides are a serious threat to our food and farming systems. On the field, they kill pollinators like bees and reduce the quality of soils. They endanger the health of farmers and field workers. And their toxic impact doesn´t stop at the farm gate: through the food we eat, they find their way into our bodies and our close environments.

In May 2020, the EU released the Farm to Fork strategy – a declaration of intent that could play a significant role in transforming our food systems. One of the strategy´s target includes the reduction of pesticide use in the EU by 50% until 2030. However, this target is not legally binding and challenged by national governments and the agrochemical lobby. Currently, the EU revises their pesticide regulations – but these face the danger to be far less ambitious than EU citizens wish.