Use of pesticides in the home in the French overseas territories (Reunion Island, Guadeloupe, Martinique)

Used in gardens and homes or as antiparasitic products for humans and pets, pesticides expose the public to health risks that need to be controlled. In order to better understand the practices and uses of pesticides in the French overseas territories, ANSES conducted the Pesti'home study. Following its first report in October 2019 focusing on metropolitan France, today it is publishing the findings of the survey carried out among 608 households in the French Caribbean and on Reunion Island.

What is the Pesti'home study?

Following publication of the results for metropolitan France in late 2019, ANSES is now publishing the Pesti'home findings for the French overseas territories. This part of the survey was conducted between February and July 2015 and involved 608 households from Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion Island.

The Pesti’home study concerns pesticides available to the general public: products used to protect indoor and outdoor plants, biocides used in the home against insects, mites, rodents, parasites or wood root, and antiparasitic drugs used to protect both humans and animals from lice, fleas or ticks.

More than one in two households use pesticides at home

Just like in metropolitan France, households in the French overseas territories frequently use pesticides in the home: 58.3% of households in Martinique, 70.1% of households on Reunion Island, and 94.8% of households in Guadeloupe used pesticides at least once during the year.

Aerosols or sprays were the most commonly used type of products. In the overseas territories, the tropical climate favours the proliferation of insects such as mosquitoes, cockroaches and ants. Treatments therefore appear to focus primarily on these types of insects. For all types of use combined, pesticide use was between three and four times more frequent than in metropolitan France.

Heavy users, i.e. people using pesticides more than twice a week, made up almost one-third of households on Reunion Island, one-quarter in Guadeloupe, and one-fifth in Martinique.

Banned products also found stored in homes

On all three islands, over 80% of households stored at least one pesticide at home, mainly in the kitchen, shed or garage. As in metropolitan France, the survey found that a number of households had products that are now banned from sale, in particular plant protection products that may sometimes have been purchased more than 10 years ago. At the time of the survey, nearly 24% of the products stored by households in Guadeloupe, 27% in Martinique and 20% on Reunion Island were banned from sale.

Insufficient compliance with the precautions for use and disposal

In Guadeloupe and Martinique, nearly 80% of unused and expired products are thrown in the bin instead of being taken to a waste disposal centre. On Reunion Island, the figure was 60%. 

Few users wear protective equipment such as gloves, masks or protective clothing. Generally speaking, the precautions and recommendations for using products are not always read or followed. For example, although the recommended dose and the advice provided by the instructions or packaging were broadly followed on all three islands, this was not the case with products intended for flying and crawling insects such as mosquitoes, cockroaches and ants, or for repellents used on the body and/or on textiles (except on Reunion Island). 

Provide more information in order to reduce user exposure and the environmental impact

In light of these results, ANSES is reiterating the recommendations made on publication of the metropolitan part of the Pesti’home study, and in particular the need to make heavy users more aware of the importance of:

  • reading and following the precautions for use: airing the room where the product was used, wearing gloves when specified, complying with the recommended dose, etc. ;
  • taking products to a waste disposal centre in cases where they have been stored for a long time and contain substances that are now banned, along with empty product packaging ;
  • complying with the conditions for storage and use of products, for example, by ensuring that users are provided with information on this at the time of purchase. In 2021, ANSES will publish its opinion on discontinuing self-service sales of biocidal products for the general public.

The Agency also recommends that manufacturers provide consumers with clearer and more readable information on the composition of these products.

To limit the proliferation of insects, especially mosquitoes, ANSES invites individuals both in the overseas territories and in metropolitan France to get rid of stagnant water where insects lay their eggs, by:

  • emptying the saucers under flower pots ;
  • cleaning gutters to help water drain away ;
  • covering rainwater tanks.