Semiochemicals: a tool addressed to mitigate environmental chemical pollution, especially in greenhouses


  • Paola Castellano Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority (INAIL)
  • Daniela Pigini Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority (INAIL)
  • Andrea Lancia Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome
  • Maria Concetta D'Ovidio INAIL- DiMEILA



In the agricultural sector, among the alternatives to insecticides, the class of “semiochemicals” (substances emitted by plants, animals and other organisms involved in the chemical communication, causing a behavioural response in individuals of the same or other species) offers new tools for the integrated control of insects. The semiochemicals are classified into allelochemicals and pheromones. Most pheromones produced in nature by Lepidoptera (Straight-Chained Lepidopteran Pheromones - SCLPs), although substances with a low impact on human health and on the environment, are often classified as skin irritants and/or sensitizers and, therefore, the warning relating to allergic reactions is often present on the labels and on the safety data sheets (SDS). Operators and workers, during the application, may be, therefore, exposed to the active substances by skin contact or by inhalation, depending on the application technique and use in an outdoor or indoor environment (e.g. greenhouses). With the focus to optimize the Indoor Air Quality in a Changing World, also considering the targets of the UN 2030 Agenda, this paper provides a contribution to update the knowledge on semiochemicals, as an alternative tool to reduce the use of chemical insecticides, also considering the aspects linked to their potential irritant and sensitizer effects.


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