Sunday, 21 July, 2019

Kale, strawberries, spinach top ‘Dirty Dozen' list for pesticide contamination

Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen 2019: These Fruits & Veggies Have The Most Pesticides Just Released: EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce
Anna Jefferson | 22 March, 2019, 21:27

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) used data from the Department of Agriculture to determine that spinach, strawberries, and kale are among the produce with the most pesticide residue found.

The last time kale was included in the USDA's produce tests was 2009 and it ranked eighth on the Dirty Dozen list. This year, the tests showed that more than 92% of conventionally grown kale samples harbored at least two pesticide residues. Dacthal, a chemical compound banned in Europe for a decade, was found on almost 60 percent of the kale samples, the group said.

"We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal", said EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin, Ph.D in the press release. One sample contained up to 18 different pesticides.

Ranked alongside kale on the list are strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes.

The American Academy of Pediatricians Council on Environmental Health advises limiting exposure to pesticides during pregnancy and in early childhood as much as possible to curb the risk of neurological disorders, leukemia, and other diseases that the chemicals have been linked to.

Despite being dubbed "dirty" by the EWG, all levels of pesticides were still considered within legal limits.

The EWG's website explains that during the testing of these popular fruits and vegetables, 225 different pesticides were found. However, scientists still do not have a clear understanding of the health effects of pesticide residues, writes the National Institute of Environmental Health Science.

The samples EWG analyzed had been tested by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) itself.

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Fear shouldn't be a part of the decision whether to buy foods on the pesticide list, said Teresa Thorne, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming, a non-profit that represents organic and conventional farmers of fruits and vegetables.

"Even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to children", said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a world-renowned pediatrician and epidemiologist.

The health effects from consuming pesticides is largely unknown. The pesticide has been prohibited for use on crops in the European Union since 2009.

"We actually have a very stringent regulatory system in Canada, which states there's a very conservative amount of pesticide residue allowed to be on fruit and vegetables that Canadians buy in the grocery store".

Produce that are among the top of the list for reducing the exposure of consumers to pesticides include avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas and onions.

What produce has low amounts of pesticides?

More than 70 percent of fruit and vegetable samples on the Clean Fifteen list had no pesticide residues. "We see consistency with the foods continuously on the Dirty Dozen list", she says. Recognizing this isn't always an option for people, the report acknowledges that eating any fresh fruit or vegetable - organic or not - is beneficial to one's health. There was a 10-year span that we didn't realize the level of pesticides had shot up in kale and that was the thing people were eating'.

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