Pesticide Residues

Here’s some information you can apply immediately – that costs nothing and may improve your long-term health. I was a bit surprised when I saw the extent of this problem.  But rather than looking to lay blame on someone, the healthier response is for us to simply “clean up our act.”

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Pesticide residues found in 70% of produce sold in US even after washing


Strawberries, spinach and kale among most pesticide-heavy;

Conventionally farmed kale could contain up to 18 pesticides.


Emily Holden

The Guardian

20 Mar 2019


About 70% of fresh produce sold in the US has pesticide residues on it even after it is washed, according to a health advocacy group.

According to the Environmental Working Group’s annual analysis of US Department of Agriculture data, strawberries, spinach and kale are among the most pesticide-heavy produce, while avocados, sweet corn and pineapples had the lowest level of residues.

More than 92% of kale tested contained two or more pesticide residues, according to the analysis, and a single sample of conventionally farmed kale could contain up to 18 different pesticides.

Dacthal – the most common pesticide found, which was detected in nearly 60% of kale samples, is banned in Europe and classified as a possible human carcinogen in the US. Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist working with the EWG, said …


“We definitely acknowledge and support

that everybody should be eating healthy

fruits and vegetables as part of their

diet regardless of if they’re

conventional or organic.


“But what we try to highlight with the

Shopper’s Guide to Produce is building on

a body of evidence that shows mixtures

of pesticides can have adverse effects.”


Other foods on the group’s “dirty dozen” list include grapes, cherries, apples, tomatoes and potatoes. In contrast, its “clean 15” list includes avocados, onions and cauliflower.

Leonardo Trasande, an environmental medicine specialist at the New York University medical school, called the EWG report “widely respected” and said it can inform shoppers who want to buy some organic fruits and vegetables, but would like to know which ones they could prioritize.

Despite a growing body of research, scientists say it is difficult to pinpoint how many pesticides people are exposed to in their daily lives, and in what quantity. And it is also hard to say how those chemicals in combination affect the body.One recent French study found that people eating organic foods were at a significantly lower risk of developing cancer, although it suggested that if those findings were confirmed, the underlying factors would require more research. Nutritional experts at Harvard University cautioned  that that study did not analyze residue levels in participants’ bodies to confirm exposure levels.

While 90% of Americans have detectable pesticide levels in their urine and blood, they said …


“The health consequences of consuming

pesticide residues from conventionally

grown foods are unknown, as are the

effects of choosing organic foods or

conventionally grown foods known

to have fewer pesticide residues.”


A separate Harvard study found that for women undergoing fertility treatment, those who ate more high-pesticide fruits and vegetables were less likely to have a live birth.

The CDC explains that “a wide range of health effects, acute and chronic, are associated with exposures to some pesticides,” including nervous system impacts, skin and eye irritation, cancer and endocrine disorders.


“The health risks from pesticide

exposure depend on the toxicity

of the pesticides, the amount a

person is exposed to, and the dur-

ation and the route of exposure,”


… the CDC says, noting evidence suggests children are at higher risk.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets rules for how pesticides are used, but those rules do not necessarily prevent cumulative exposure in a person’s diet.

The agency is fighting a court order to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that is associated with development disabilities in children.

EPA has also scaled back what types of exposure it will consider when evaluating human health risks. And President Trump has appointed a former executive from the industry lobbying group the American Chemistry Council, Nancy Beck, as the head of its toxic chemical unit.

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Those last two paragraphs really bother me.

The agency that is supposed to be looking out for our well-being, EPA, is actually fighting against a court-ordered ban on a pesticide that’s been proven to harm children.  However, rather than sitting back in anger, the better alternative is for us to get back to assuming responsibility for our health, and not depending on unreliable sources, even when they’re from our government.

Let’s go back to our food-buying habits. As much as possible, purchase organic food.  It can be from a farmer at a Farmers’ Market.  It can be from a local grocery store.  Or it can be from a national chain, such as Whole Foods or even Costco.  We need to think about what’s going into our body.

Healthy eating is the building block of our immune system.

We have better resistance to and

can recover faster from diseases

– including coronavirus – when

we have a stronger immune system.

Do we have to wait for a life-threatening crisis before we make the changes that are needed for us to enjoy a healthier, more sustainable life?

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