In recent years, several monitoring programs have been established as a consequence of EU Directives which include requirements for monitoring the quality of water resources (drinking water, groundwater and surface water). Plant protection products (PPPs) are an obvious target for monitoring activities, since they are directly released into the environment. In Italy, the National Environmental Protection Agency (ISPRA ex APAT) has recently published two reports containing the results of the National Plans for Control of Environmental Effects of PPP. These documents contain the collection of monitoring data related to the presence of PPP residues in surface water and groundwater. The first objective of this work was to critically analyze the results of monitoring campaigns on pesticide residues in surface waters in Italy. In particular, the paper focuses on whether and how the Italian approach satisfies the requirements of the Water Framework Directive, whether they are representative of the whole national territory, and how the utilized approach is appropriate for the characterization of risk to surface water. Starting from this analysis, some considerations about the limits of environmental monitoring as a tool for managing risk were highlighted.
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