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

The Dakota Access pipeline being built in Iowa. Carl Wycoff / CC BY 2.0

The fight between the Standing Rock Sioux and the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline is back on, as the tribe opposes a pipeline expansion that it argues would increase the risk of an oil spill.

Read More Show Less
Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. NIAID / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less