Dirty Dozen 2022: Produce with maximum and minimum pesticides

(CNN) – Strawberries and spinach top the annual list of “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticides, followed by three greens – kale, collard and mustard – nectarines, apples, grapes and bells and hot peppers, environmental work. According to the group’s 2022 Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Production.

Cherries are the eighth most polluted food this year Peaches, pears, celery and tomatoes Rounding out the list.

But don’t stop eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants needed to fight chronic disease, experts say.

“If the things you like to eat are on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list, we recommend buying the organic version whenever you can,” said Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at EWG, along with toxic chemicals and pesticides.

“Several peer-reviewed studies and clinical trials have looked at what happens when people switch to a completely organic diet,” he said. “Pesticide concentrations and measurements decrease very rapidly.”

Consumers can also consult EWG’s “Clean Fifteen” – a list of products with a minimum amount of pesticides. About 70% of the fruits and vegetables on the list did not have detectable pesticide residues, while only 5% had residues of two or more pesticides, the report said.

Of the 46 foods tested, avocados had the lowest pesticide levels, followed by sweet corn, pineapple, onions and papaya.

Multiple pesticides

Released annually since 2004, the EWG report uses the U.S. Department of Agriculture test data to rank 46 foods that are the most and least contaminated in pesticide residues. USDA staff prepares consumer-like food – washing, peeling or scrubbing – before testing Of each item.

The USDA does not sample all 46 foods per year, so the EWG draws on results from recent testing periods. Strawberries, for example, have not been tested by the USDA since 2016, Temkin says.

Many samples of the 46 fruits and vegetables included in the report tested positive for multiple pesticides, including pesticides and fungicides. “90% of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and grapes have tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides,” the report said.

The experiments found the highest levels of multiple pesticides – 103 – in the heart-healthy trio of ink, collard and mustard vegetable samples, followed by 101 different pesticides on hot and bell peppers. In general, “spinach samples had 1.8 times more pesticide residues than weight tested in other crops,” the report said.

Exposure to multiple pesticides, even at low levels, is “supra-additive,” each pesticide has a greater impact on health than isolation, said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an environmental pediatrician at NYU Langone who was not involved in the report.

Pesticide health risks

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the health risks from pesticides depend on the type. Pesticides can affect the nervous system, irritate the eyes and skin, interfere with the body’s hormonal system or cause cancer, the EPA said.

The pesticide DCPA, classified as a potential human carcinogen by the EPA and banned by the European Union in 2009, was often detected in collars, mustard greens and sprouts, the EWG report said.

Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide often used in rows of crops such as nuts and fruit trees and broccoli and cauliflower, was banned by the EPA in February 2022 after 15 years of efforts by environmental groups.

Chlorpyrifos contains one The enzyme “which leads to neurotoxicity and has been linked to potential neurodevelopmental effects in children,” the EPA said.

Infants and children are particularly at risk for pesticides, experts say, as chemicals can cause developing brain damage. In a 2020 study, exposure to organophosphates, a common class of pesticides, reduced children’s IQ and increased their intellectual disability.

A large number of pesticides also affect the endocrine system of the developing fetus, which can interfere with developmental growth, reproduction and metabolism.

“Even brief exposure to pesticides that alter endocrine function can have a lasting effect if the exposure occurs during a critical window of reproductive development,” according to the EPA.

Complaints of the industry

The agricultural industry has long complained about the publication of “Dirty Dozen”, saying EWG “deliberately” misrepresented USDA data in the report.

“Simply put, the EWG’s attempt to twist the data to create bias … has led to growing consumer fears about fruits and vegetables,” said Chris Novak, president and CEO of Croplife America, a national trading company that producers, formulators and distributors. Represents pesticides

“A study has found that buyers are less likely to buy any vegetables and fruits, especially those with names on their list,” Novak said in an email.

In response, the EWG stated that the survey in question, funded by another industry association, the Food and Agriculture Alliance, presented a completely different reality from what Novak described.

“The study actually shows that more than half of those surveyed said that the ‘dirty dozen’ list made them more likely to buy fruits and vegetables,” Temkin said. “About 1 in 6 people said that our report would make them less likely to buy the product.”

Consumers can take action

In addition to organic food, consumers can take a number of steps to reduce exposure to pesticides – and many other toxic substances such as heavy metals – that are found in manufactured products.

Wash all products before serving. Don’t use soap, detergent or washing commercial products – water is the best choice, experts say.

“Soaps and household detergents can be absorbed by fruits and vegetables despite being thoroughly washed and can make you sick. Also, the safety of commercial product washing residues is unknown and their effectiveness has not been tested,” the US Food and Drug Administration said.

Select local. Experts say buying food directly from local farmers can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.

Buy in season. Prices of fruits and vegetables go down In season and in abundance. Experts suggest that this is a good time to buy plenty of organic food, then freeze them or use them for future use.

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