70 Percent of Fruit and Vegetables in the U.S. Contain Pesticide Residue, Says Report
Apr 10, 2018 at 1:00pm
By Amel Ahmed, KQED Science
More than half the produce sold in the U.S. contain pesticide residues, according to an independent review of recent tests conducted by the Department of Agriculture.
Even after being carefully washed or peeled, nearly 70 percent of fruit and vegetables sold in the U.S. contained pesticide residues, according to a review of recent tests conducted by the Department of Agriculture.
“It is vitally important that everyone eats plenty of produce, but it is also wise to avoid dietary exposure to toxic pesticides, from conception through childhood,” said Sonya Lunder, senior analyst with nonprofit Environmental Working Group, which conducted the analysis.
The reviewed data revealed a total of 230 pesticides and pesticide breakdown products in thousands of crops that were sampled.
Among the report's key findings: more than one-third of strawberry samples analyzed in 2016 contained 10 or more pesticide residues. More than 98 percent of apples, cherries, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, and strawberries tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
Spinach had almost twice as much pesticide residue by weight compared to other crops.
EWG publishes a separate annual shoppers guide based on the underlying review of USDA data. The guide consists of the "Dirty Dozen," a list of produce with high levels of pesticide residue, and the "Clean Fifteen," a list of produce with the least residue detected.
Produce on the healthy list include avocados and sweet corn, which had less than one percent of pesticide residues.
In this year's main report, more than 80 percent of the following fruits and vegetables had no sign of pesticide residues: pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage.
Hot peppers was added this year to the dirty dozen list after researchers found that 739 samples of hot peppers contained residues of three "highly toxic" insecticides, including a neurotoxin called chlorpyrifos.
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