“Dirty Dozen” Dirty Facts
The “Dirty Dozen” food list is issued every year by the EWG (Environmental Working Group). The EWG compiles a list of the fruits and vegetables most contaminated, according to test results conducted by the USDA. Thousands of produce samples are collected and tested by the USDA for synthetic pesticide residue. The twelve foods tested with the highest level of synthetic pesticide load then becomes part of the “Dirty Dozen” food list.
Quick Dirty Facts:
- More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
- The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
- A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
- Single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides.
What are Pesticides?
Simply stated, pesticides are a collective term for a wide array of chemicals intended to kill unwanted insects, plants, molds, and rodents.
“Pesticide” is a term for a wide array of products but is often inappropriately used in reference to only insecticides. The universe of pesticide types and products is broad and includes insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides and specific chemicals.
Dangers Associated with Synthetic Pesticide Use
- Research has linked exposure to pesticides to increased presence of neurological disorders, Parkinson’s disease, childhood leukemia, lymphoma, asthma and more.
- Many pesticides are carcinogenic to animals, and some are considered carcinogenic to humans with varied degree of evidence.
- Maternal and cord blood levels of some pesticides are similar, demonstrating that they are readily transferred from mother to fetus during pregnancy (Whyatt et al. 2003).
- Children are uniquely vulnerable to uptake and adverse effects of pesticides because of developmental, dietary, and physiologic factors. Exposure occurs through ingestion, inhalation, or dermal contact. Unintentional ingestion by children may be at a considerably higher dose than an adult because of the greater intake of food or fluids per pound of body weight.
- Increased pesticide levels in children are linked to poorer mental development. Multiple case-control studies and evidence reviews support a role for insecticides in risk of brain tumors and acute lymphocytic leukemia. Prospective contemporary birth cohort studies in the United States link early-life exposure to organophosphate insecticides with reductions in IQ and abnormal behaviors associated with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder and autism.
2016 Dirty Dozen List (ranked from dirtiest to least dirty, though all are dirty)
- Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- PotataoesWondering what foods rank next? Continued to 50……
- Snap peas – imported
- Blueberries – domestic
- Hot peppers
- Kale / collard greens
- Green beans
- Winter Squash
- Summer squash*
- Snap peas – domestic
- Green onions
- Sweet potatoes
- Honeydew melon
- Sweet peas frozen
- Sweet Corn*
* A small amount of sweet corn (almost always GMO), papaya and summer squash sold in the United
- “EWG’s 2016 Dirty Dozen™ List of Pesticides on Produce: Strawberries Most Contaminated, Apples Drop to Second.” EWG. EWG, 12 Apr. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
- Roberts, James R., Catherine J. Karr, and Council On Environmental Health. “Pesticide Exposure in Children.” Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics, 01 Dec. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
- Shim, Youn K., Steven P. Mlynarek, and Edwin Van Wijngaarden. “Parental Exposure to Pesticides and Childhood Brain Cancer: U.S. Atlantic Coast Childhood Brain Cancer Study.” Environmental Health Perspectives. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, June 2009. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.