We’ve all heard of the so-called "dirty dozen" those fruits and vegetables that have the highest levels of pesticide contamination. In April 2014, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, released an updated list of the new “dirty dozen” to help guide consumers. According to the EWG, you can reduce the amount of pesticides you consume by avoiding these twelve most contaminated fresh produce.
Why Avoiding the Dirty Dozen is Important for Children
Kids face a double whammy when it comes to health risks from pesticides. One, they are especially vulnerable to pesticides because their bodies are still growing and their bodies are less able to metabolize and get rid of toxins. And two, they may consume more of the pesticide residue than adults relative to their body weight because they are physically smaller.
According to the EWG, studies have shown that kids are routinely consuming unsafe levels of commonly-used organophosphate pesticides, which can harm the developing brain and nervous system. Pesticides have also been linked to cancer, effects on the hormone system, and irritation of eyes, skin, and lungs. New research has also shown that pesticides may be linked to problems such as ADHD.
While it's often difficult -- and expensive -- to go entirely organic, parents should try to avoid conventional versions of these foods. Buy organic versions when you can or try to find alternative fruits and veggies when possible.
What are the New "Dirty Dozen"
- Sweet bell peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas (imported)
EWG also lists conventionally-grown fruits and veggies that have the least amount of pesticides. These "clean fifteen" produce items include:
2. Sweet corn
5. Sweet peas (frozen)
15. Sweet potatoes