Apples, celery, and sweet bell peppers top this year’s “Dirty Dozen,” which has been expanded to the “Dirty Dozen Plus” in order to include green beans and leafy greens like collards and kale. (You can read the entire report here.) Though they don’t meet traditional criteria for the Dirty Dozen, green beans and leafy greens are often contaminated with organophosphate insecticides. “These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade,” the EWG said in its report. “But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.”
Pesticides aren’t necessarily just on the surface of the food, Chensheng (Alex) Lu, Associate Professor of Environmental Exposure Biology at the Harvard School of Public Health told Yahoo! Shine in an interview. “If you look at apples, for example, they often spray from March to late June. After that they don’t spray anything,” he said, explaining that in many cases the fruit grows with pesticides already in it, thanks to pesticide seed treatment programs where seeds are soaked in pesticides before they’re even planted. “It started with corn, but now is used with a lot of different kinds of produce,” he said.
According to the EWG, 96 percent of celery samples, 96 percent of peach samples, and 88 percent of spinach samples contained residue from one or more pesticides. Up to 15 different pesticides were detected on a single sample of grapes, 93 percent of apple samples had traces of two or more pesticides on them, and samples of lettuce sported 78 different pesticides. Cucumbers, a newcomer to the Dirty Dozen Plus, turned up 10 different pesticides on a single sample.
The group also took a look at commercial baby food for the first time. “Department scientists analyzed about 190 samples each of prepared baby food consisting of green beans, pears, and sweet potatoes,” the report said (it did not name specific brands). Green beans prepared as baby food tested positive for five pesticides, while 92 percent of pear samples had at least one type of pesticide and three samples tested positive for Iprodione, a probable carcinogen which is not registered with the EPA for use on pears. Sweet potatoes, which are long-time members of the “Clean 15” group, had nearly no pesticide residue at all. …
The Dirty Dozen Plus:
- sweet bell peppers
- imported nectarines
- domestic blueberries
- green beans
- kale, collards, and leafy greens
Conventionally grown items on the “Clean 15” list are generally low in pesticides. “More than 90 percent of cabbage, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant and sweet potato samples had one or fewer pesticides detected,” the report says. “Of the ‘Clean Fifteen’ vegetables, no single sample had more than 5 different chemicals, and no single fruit sample from the ‘Clean Fifteen’ had more than 5 types of pesticides detected.”
The Clean 15:
- sweet corn
- sweet Peas
- domestic cantaloupe
- sweet potatoes