Strawberries, Kale top 'dirty dozen' list of tainted produce

Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen 2019: These Fruits & Veggies Have The Most Pesticides

A January 2018 study from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that women who ate produce with higher levels of pesticides while undergoing fertility treatment has an increased risk of having a stillbirth.

The EWG, a non-profit activist and watchdog group, has compiled the list-called the "Dirty Dozen"-every year since 2004, highlighting which fruits and vegetables are contaminated with the most pesticide residue". Kale samples tested positive for two or more pesticides, with multiple samples showing 18 different pesticide residues.

In USDA's most recent round of tests, more than 92 percent of conventionally grown kale samples had at least two or more pesticide residues.

In 2009, kale ranked eighth on the Dirty Dozen, and since then, the USDA hasn't tested kale for pesticides.

Almost 60 percent of the kale samples reportedly contained the pesticide Dacthal, or DCPA, which was classified as a possible human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1995. It includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas, onions, papayas, eggplants, asparagus, kiwis, cabbages, cauliflower, cantaloupes, broccoli, mushrooms and honeydew melons. The most common pesticide detected was Dacthal, also known as DCPA, which was classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1995 as a possible human carcinogen and banned in the European Union in 2009.

The EWG recommends buying and eating organic if you want to avoid consuming pesticide residues.

'They can test more fruits and vegetables more often.

"For example, you may be surprised at how numerous lower-priced grocery stores that didn't used to carry organic - or much organic - now sell a wide variety of these healthy alternatives to conventional produce", Johnson says. "That's largely because residues are so low, if present at all", she said. Among these, kale and spinach contained 1.1 to 1.8 times more pesticide residue in weight than other batches of produce.

Numerous pesticides detected by EWG have always been banned in the European Union and have been the subject of concern at the EPA-but the US has failed to take the chemicals off the market.

The EWG report comes amid a multitude of studies that have found that eating organic food lowers several health risks. Less than one percent of conventionally-grown samples of avocados and corn were found to contain pesticides.

Bottom line: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential for health, so don't give up on them just because of the "dirty dozen" list. The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges there are reasons to be concerned about the exposure of developing children to pesticides, especially before birth.

The findings make the case for choosing organically grown fruits and vegetables, since research has shown that organic produce has fewer pesticide residues than conventional.

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