Quantcast

What All Parents Need to Know About Pesticides in Produce

Food
Pixabay

By Robert Coleman

Every spring the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases our Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. The guide can be used by anyone trying to avoid pesticides, but it's especially important for parents to limit their children's exposures to these toxic chemicals.


The idea is simple: Parents can buy organic versions of the items on the Dirty Dozen™ list of produce with the most pesticide residues to limit the amount of pesticides their kids ingest. On the flip side, families can save money by buying conventional versions of the items on the Clean Fifteen™ list of produce with the least pesticide residues.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of a landmark study by the National Academy of Sciences that warned children's exposure to toxic pesticides through food could harm their health. The study is just as important today. Although many toxic pesticides have been removed from the marketplace, we now also know much more about how pesticide intake negatively affects kids' developing bodies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents tens of thousands of children's doctors, recommends the Shopper's Guide to pediatricians when consulting with parents about reducing pesticide exposures in their children's diets. Here's some key information that every parent or expecting parent should know:

  • Children eat many more fruits and vegetables relative to their body weights than adults do, which can increase their pesticide exposures. This is especially true if they're eating conventionally grown produce that lands on our Dirty Dozen list.
  • Several long-term studies of U.S. children, in both farming and urban communities, found exposure to organophosphate pesticides caused subtle but lasting damages to their brains and nervous systems. But last year, the Environmental Protection Agency cancelled a scheduled ban of a dangerous organophosphate called chlorpyrifos.
  • Non-organic strawberries have topped the Dirty Dozen list for the third year running. This year, EWG found conventionally grown strawberries contained an average of 7.8 different pesticides per sample, almost four times the average of all other produce. According to the University of Illinois Extension, over 53 percent of 7- to 9-year-olds picked strawberries as their favorite fruit. And 94 percent of U.S. households consume strawberries.
  • Seventy-six percent of conventionally grown spinach samples in this year's guide contained permethrin, a pyrethroid insecticide.
  • Conventional apples and pears remained on the Dirty Dozen this year. Some samples of these fruits contained pesticides that have been banned in Europe.
  • A 2015 peer-reviewed study found that pesticide levels in children dropped dramatically within days of adopting an organic diet.

Click here to get a PDF copy of the guide.

EWG is committed to providing parents with vital information on children's exposures to environmental contaminants. Stay tuned in to EWG's work, in particular their Children's Health Initiative, for the latest breaking news and analysis.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A protest march against the Line 3 pipeline in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18, 2018. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Collin Rees

We know that people power can stop dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, because we've proved it over and over again — and recently we've had two more big wins.

Read More Show Less
Scientists released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction, but it was largely ignored by the corporate news media. Danny Perez Photography / Flickr / CC

By Julia Conley

Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixabay

Summer is fast approaching, which means it's time to stock up on sunscreen to ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Not all sunscreens are created equally, however.

Read More Show Less
DoneGood

By Cullen Schwarz

Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

Read More Show Less
Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Flooding in Winfield, Missouri this month. Jonathan Rehg / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.

"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.

Read More Show Less
Reed Hoffmann / Getty Images

Violent tornadoes tore through Missouri Wednesday night, killing three and causing "extensive damage" to the state's capital of Jefferson City, The New York Times reported.

"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."

Read More Show Less

georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images

By Jennifer Molidor

One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.

Read More Show Less