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13 Ways to Keep Plastics Out of Your Food

Take action to protect your food—and your family—from BPA.

Our exploding use of plastics may be causing population decline in the industrial world. The possible cause? “Chemicals in commerce.” Namely plastics.

Our bodies have receptor sites for hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. These sites fulfill various important bodily functions. Imagine if instead of real hormones the receptors receive chemicals that mimic hormones, such as are found in plasticizers. This fools the body into thinking it has the real thing until, oops, the plasticizer or other hormone disrupting chemical derails the system. Called endocrine disruption, this phenomenon was brought to worldwide attention in 1996 with the seminal book Our Stolen Future.

There are a number of before-and-after reports of people eating food that had been stored in plastic packaging who then have their blood drawn to see horrifying spikes of the plasticizer bisphenol a (BPA). The discussion about the experiment in the book Slow Death by Rubber Duck is the most famous. Many plastic items are made with BPA, and parents especially have put pressure on companies to drop it. Unfortunately, the common “BPA-Free” substitute, BPS, may cause hyperactivity.

A 2014 NIH study reports that “Growing evidence from research on laboratory animals, wildlife, and humans supports the view that BPA produces an endocrine disrupting effect and adversely affects male reproductive function.”

Phthalates such as DEHP are designed to make plastic soft, such as for plastic food wrap. DEHP has been reported in an NIH study to affect male reproductive development, sperm quality and male hormone levels in general. The problems can go beyond low sperm quality, to include low libido, cancer and erectile dysfunction.

Worse, experimental results actually suggested that multiple generations of exposure may have increased male sensitivity to the chemical. Niels Erik Skakkebaek, an adjunct professor in endocrine disrupters, has for years advocated the concept that poor semen quality is part of a bigger phenomenon, called testicular dysgenesis syndrome.

One real challenge with the research is that scientists have only measured plasticizers in urine since 2000. Skeptics will say there isn’t nearly enough research to prove that plastic exposure is causing low sperm count. Industry is fighting hard to keep BPA on the market and FDA is changing course due to that pressure.

BPA isn’t just bad for men. Research has shown that BPA exposure can impact pregnant women’s thyroids and has been linked to cell damage in post-menopausal women.

The mandate of the precautionary principle is to take preventive action in the face of scientific uncertainty in order to prevent harm. Carolyn Raffensperger is the founding executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network. She says the precautionary principle “has three building blocks. One is scientific uncertainty. The second is the likelihood or the plausibility of harm. The third element is precautionary action….the Precautionary Principle invites action: it says you’ve got to take action.”

Here are ways to take action to protect your food from BPA.

1. Smell and taste test.

Can you smell or taste plastic? If you can smell plastic, track down the source and remove it. If you can taste plastic, don’t eat that type or source of food again.

2. Use glass or stainless steel.

Avoid drinking from plastic bottles and choose glass or stainless steel instead. Make a special point to avoid polycarbonate, the “hard” plastic with a recycling code of #7 (more about this in #5, below). And be sure to use glass baby bottles for infants.

3. Avoid processed food.

If there was ever a reason to stop eating processed foods, this is it. The plasticizer adipate (DEHA) is used as an additive in all sorts of foods, including ones you wouldn’t expect, such as fat, dairy and egg-based deserts, frozen fish, processed fruit and breakfast cereals. It is a chemical that helps material resist high temperatures and is also used in foods as a bulking agent, stabilizer and thickener.

4. Skip plastic food wraps.

DEHP (phthalates) are found in food wrap and many kinds are made of PVC, #3 on the recycling code. It’s especially important to refrain from storing hot, fatty food in plastic as the plastics easily migrate into the food. So skip the cling wrap and go for glass food storage containers. Never heat food in plastic in a microwave.

5. Check recyling codes.

Check for #3 and #7 recycling codes, and use plastic-free alternatives for the products. #3 is commonly used for packaging of salad dressing, ketchup, mineral water, cooking oil, mouthwash, shampoo, etc. #7 is commonly found in aseptic packaging and baby bottles. It is also found in some reusable water bottles, stain-resistant food storage containers, most canned foods, and hard plastic water bottles. Read more about toxic plastics in “The 10 Most Contaminated Foods in Your Fridge.”

6. Don’t burn plastic.

Don’t burn plastic, whatever you do. Don’t start a fire using any food packaging in the fireplace or wood stove, don’t clean up a campsite before you leave by burning packaging, and don’t burn food packaging in the backyard burn barrels. Breathing these chemicals is not a good idea!

7. Make food essentials at home.

Buy products packaged in glass or learn to make your own: 10 Healthy Food Essentials You Can Make at Home.

8. Skip canned foods and soda.

Just skip canned food and soda until the industry finds plastic-free alternatives. Epoxy resins containing BPA are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans. Note that aseptic packaging, such as Tetra Pak, is BPA-free, but does contain low-density polyethylene (LDPE).

9. Check your wine and beer containers.

Wine that has been fermented in BPA-resin lined vats will contain BPA, as will wine that touches synthetic corks that are made with BPA. Happily, it is extremely rare for wine to be fermented in BPA-resin lined vats to begin with. Most wine is fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Wines that have BPA are fermented in concrete fermentation vats, but check your vineyard to make sure, if local. Also, beer cans are lined with BPA, so choose glass bottles instead.

10. Avoid plastic food containers.

Polycarbonate is a hard plastic, so those hard plastic food storage containers are out. Instead of storing food in plastic, use glass.

11. Store filtered water in glass containers.

You need filtered water. Most counter-top water filters have a polycarbonate receptacle. You can manage a few workarounds for this. Place the top of the filter on top of a big glass or stainless steel jug so the water will pass through the filter and be stored in a clean container.

12. Swap out plastic kitchen appliances for glass.

The receptacles of many kitchen appliances, like coffee makers, blenders and food processors are plastic. Most coffee makers have a plastic reservoir to hold the water. Most blenders, food processords and popcorn makers are made entirely of polycarbonate. For coffee, you can use a glass French press. Make sure you don’t put hot fatty food into kitchen appliances as they suck up plastic the most.

13. Avoid handling receipts.

The thermal paper for cash register receipts carries large amounts of BPA. When you shop for food, try not to handle the receipt with your exposed hand.

Find more plastic alternatives at LifeWithoutPlastic.com
 
By Annie B. Bond      AlterNet        September 13, 2017

Annie B. Bond is the author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999). She is the co-author of True Food: Eight Simple Steps to a Healthier You, winner of the Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World.

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Scented Laundry Products Release Carcinogens, Study Finds

Scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets make laundry smell great – but do they cause cancer?

A small study suggests scented laundry items contain carcinogens that waft through vents, potentially raising cancer risk.

“This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated,” said lead author Dr. Anne Steinemann, professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs at the University of Washington, said in a written statement. “If they’re coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they’re regulated, but if they’re coming out of a dryer vent, they’re not.”

Previous studies have looked at what chemicals are released by laundry products, since manufacturers don’t have to disclose ingredients used in fragrances or laundry products.

Needless to say, these researchers weren’t thrilled with what they found.

For the study – published in the August issue of Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health – researchers enlisted two homeowners to volunteer their washers and dryers, which the team scrubbed clean beforehand. The researchers ran a regular laundry cycle for three scenarios in each home: once without any detergent, once with a scented liquid laundry detergent, and the last with both scented detergent and a leading brand of scented dryer sheets.

Their analysis found more than 25 “volatile” air pollutants – including the carcinogens acetaldehyde and benzene.

Benzene causes leukemia and other blood cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Acetaldehyde has been shown to cause nasal and throat cancer in animal studies.

Steinemann thinks agencies focus too much on limiting other pollution sources when they should look closer to home.

“We focus a lot of attention on how to reduce emissions of pollutants from automobiles,” she said. “And here’s one source of pollutants that could be reduced.”

The American Cleaning Institute, however, Steinemann’s study, calling the findings “shoddy science” that didn’t take into account many factors like washing machine brands, different load cycles, and non-scented products.

“Consumers should not be swayed by the sensationalist headlines that may come across the Internet related to this so-called research,” the Institute emailed CBS News.

Ryan Jaslow   CBSNews.com’s health editor.     CBS NEWS      August 26, 2011      CBS Interactive Inc.


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Should I Be Concerned About Pesticides in My Coffee?

Why you should check your coffee label twice.

For most North Americans, waking up with a fresh cup of coffee is the only way to get out of bed. But next to organic strawberries and organic cereal, you might be forgetting about pesticide-free coffee.

Recently, coffee has appeared on a number of lists for containing pesticides. Some groups and articles suggest agrochemicals used on stems and leaves could affect coffee beans, “in which case coffee beans could be carrying their residues.” Meanwhile other studies find the high roasting temperatures eliminate most pesticide residues, although in one study “green, roasted and instant coffee samples” treated with insecticide directly on the leaves contained residues.

While the health risks on the consumer are likely minimal and still a matter of debate, there’s no question about the impacts of pesticides on the environment and farm workers. Coffee is one of the largest and most important crops in the world, worth roughly $16.5 billion in the United States alone. The International Coffee Organization estimatesthere are nearly 26 million people employed in the coffee business across 52 countries. Next to Brazil and the European Union, the United States is one of the largest consumers of coffee and the largestmarket for organic coffee. Still, you might think organic coffee (farmed without the use of pesticides) would be close to conventional coffee in numbers. But organic coffee only accounts for 6.6 percentof the world’s harvested coffee.

It’s no wonder organic coffee hasn’t taken the coffee world over. In “Organic coffee: Why Latin America’s farmers are abandoning it” Ezra Fieser reports that farmers can get roughly 485 pounds more coffee from one acre, applying 250 pounds of chemical fertilizer per acre. Compare this to 285 pounds on an organic farm. He adds, Latin American farmers had made the switch to organic crops but they couldn’t sell their coffee at the higher price. “From Mexico to Costa Rica, at least 10 percent of growers [defected] in the past three years.”

Growing conventional coffee will also be affected by climate change. According to the International Trade Centre, climate change will mean an increase in pests and diseases. This could mean a greater dependence on pesticides and possibly even more coffee grown under irrigation, which would mean water supplies would also suffer.

 

The use of pesticides continues to add to soil erosion and polluted waters from soil runoff. And there’s still another problem with pesticides. According to the IFC, it’s estimated that in Africa alone, “there could be as much as 50,000 tons of obsolete pesticides” stored in hazardous stockpiles. The problem with disposal of pesticide is difficult because it can cost $3,000 to $5,000 per ton to remove. But, because the materials are not all the same, there’s “no blanket solution.”

Although studies have been conflicted on pesticide residues in drinking coffee, there’s a bigger consensus when it comes to farmer safety. In a recent study, scientists surveyed a random sample of 81 coffee farmers in eastern Jamaica where coffee production employs “more than 50,000 people and contributes 7 percent of the island’s agricultural earnings.”

In the study 78 percent of the farmers experienced symptoms related to pesticide handling, including “dizziness, headaches, difficult breathing and tightness in the chest.” Much of this could be attributed to improper handling and little to no training on pesticide handling — a common problem in countries with no oversight or regulation. In four of the observation sessions, not a single farmer used protection like a facemask or rubber gloves. Battling pests like the coffee cherry borer and coffee rust is much easier if you have a toxic pesticide to kill them. Unfortunately a number of pesticides being used have been linked to animal and wildlife deaths and in some cases human deaths.

For millions of coffee aficionados, the coffee of choice comes from Starbucks. It’s true Starbucks is one of the largest purchasers of coffee. They have made it their mission to provide fairtrade coffee and report that 95.3 percent of their coffee is ethically sourced. Still, organic coffee is harder to come at a Starbucks because only 1.1 percent of Starbucks’ coffee is organic.

All the types of coffee labels could make your head spin more than a quadruple shot espresso. There’s organic, fairtrade, shade-grown (which mean the coffee is grown under shade, signifying its commitment to the rainforest). Utz-certified coffee provides traceability programs and fair labor for farm workers and an “appropriate and modest use of fertilizers, pesticides, water and energy. Almost half of all fairtrade is certified organic as well. But on the issue of pesticides, if you want organic you’ll still want to verify the USDA organic label, as there are strict rules for any imports being labeled organic.

Clarissa A. Leon is AlterNet’s food editor. She formerly served as an investigative research assistant at The Daily Beast and The Nation Institute. 

By Clarissa A. León / AlterNet July 30, 2014


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Toxic Chemical Bpa Still Common In Blood Samples: Survey

OTTAWA – Seven years after Canada declared bisphenol A, or BPA, to be toxic to human health, a national survey of chemicals in Canadians’ bodies shows more than 90 per cent of Canadians have it in their blood and the exposure may actually be getting worse, not better.

BPA is an industrial chemical used in plastics and commonly found in food and beverage containers such as cans and reusable water bottles. It has been linked to brain and behavioural issues in babies and children as well as high blood pressure and infertility in adults. Some studies even suggest early exposure to BPA may make people more prone to obesity.

Health Canada on Thursday released its fourth version of a survey monitoring the presence of toxic chemicals in blood and urine based on testing done on 5,700 Canadians across the country in 2014 and 2015.

The survey used blood and urine samples collected from people between three and 79 years old in 16 different locations in seven provinces.

The results detected the presence of BPA in the blood of 92.7 per cent of the people tested, compared with 92.2 per cent of people tested in 2011 and 2012.

In 2010, the federal government formally declared BPA to be toxic, and banned its use in baby bottles that same year.

The formal declaration was supposed to make it easier for Canada to ban the use of BPA with regulations rather than requiring time-consuming legislative amendments.

Since then, there have been voluntary reductions in the use of BPA in such products as infant formula packaging, food tins and some reusable water bottles, but Canada hasn’t formally banned its use in anything else.

BPA is an industrial chemical used in plastics and commonly found
in food and beverage containers such as cans and reusable water bottles.

While BPA is listed on Environment Canada’s list of toxic substances alongside arsenic, asbestos, lead and mercury, Health Canada also concludes that the current amount of BPA exposure Canadians get from food and beverage containers is low enough that it doesn’t pose a health risk when used in those products.

Muhannad Malas, the toxics program manager for Environmental Defence, said the biomonitoring survey results clearly show any efforts to reduce exposure to BPA thus far are not working.

“I think that sort of points to the inadequacy of the regulations we have on BPA,” said Malas. “So seven years ago BPA was banned in baby bottles after it was declared toxic, seven years later we’re not really seeing BPA levels going down and that’s because it’s continued to be used in things like cash register receipts and food cans.”

Last year Environmental Defence participated in a study with some U.S. organizations which found the presence of BPA in 81 per cent of food cans on store shelves.

Malas said equally disturbing is that the substances being used to replace BPA are not proven to be any safer than BPA.

Environmental Defence Thursday called for Canada to use the results of this report to help guide its decision on what to do about the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. In June, a parliamentary committee made 87 recommendations for improvements to the law, which is the main statute governing the use of chemicals in Canada.

Among those recommendations were to amend the act to make it the principal statute to regulate products containing toxic chemicals, give cabinet more authority to demand data and testing results on products to help assess their risk to Canadians and that the act require all products containing hazardous substances to have mandatory warning labels.

Health Minister Jane Philpott and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna need to respond to the committee recommendations by mid-October.

McKenna said Thursday the government is still studying the recommendations:

“The health and safety of Canadians is a top priority for us and we’re always looking at how we can improve and do better to make sure that we keep Canadians healthy and safe.”

The Canadian Press    Friday, August 25, 2017 
source: ctvnews.ca


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Factors Contributing to Cancer

Eighty percent of cancers are due to factors that have been identified and can potentially be controlled, according to the National Cancer Institute. And not only can we potentially prevent most cancers, we can also improve the survival rates of people who have cancer. Cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon have received more research attention than other forms of the disease, but, as we will see, certain principles apply to many forms of cancer.

Cancer starts when one cell begins to multiply out of control. It begins to expand into a lump that can invade healthy tissues and spread to other parts of the body. But there is a lot we can do about it. Thirty percent of cancers are caused by tobacco. Lung cancer is the most obvious example, but by no means the only one. Cancers of the mouth, throat, kidney, and bladder are also caused by tobacco.

Dietary factors also play a significant role in cancer risk. At least one-third of annual cancer deaths in the United States are due to dietary factors.1 A review on diet and cancer estimates that up to 80 percent of cancers of the large bowel, breast, and prostate are due to dietary factors. 1

In 2008, excess body weight was responsible for over 124,000 new cancer diagnoses in Europe. These results were presented at a major European cancer conference in 2009 and showed endometrial (uterine) cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and colorectal cancer were the most common weight-related cancers. These three cancer types accounted for 65 percent of all cancers due to excess body weight. The effects of obesity also appear to increase mortality from several other types of cancer including gallbladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, and ovary, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in women with the highest BMIs compared to those with a healthy BMI.2  Previous studies including the Adventist Health Study-2 show that following a vegan diet results in the lowest BMI of any group (lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semivegetarian, nonvegetarian), making them less susceptible to obesity-related cancers. 3

The link between diet and cancer is not new. In January 1892, Scientific American printed the observation that “cancer is most frequent among those branches of the human race where carnivorous habits prevail.” Numerous research studies have shown that cancer is much more common in populations consuming diets rich in fatty foods, particularly meat, and much less common in countries eating diets rich in grains, vegetables, and fruits. One reason is that foods affect the action of hormones in the body. They also affect the strength of the immune system and other factors. While fruits and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals to protect the body, by contrast, recent research shows that animal products contain potentially carcinogenic compounds which may contribute to increased cancer risk. 5

In addition to tobacco use and diet, other factors, including physical activity, reproductive and sexual behavior, 4 bacterial and viral infections, and exposure to radiation and chemicals, may also contribute to the risk of certain forms of cancer. 4,6

Estimated Percentages of Cancer Due to Selected Factors 5,6

Diet                     35% to 60%
Tobacco                           30%
Air and Water Pollution 5%
Alcohol                              3%
Radiation                          3%
Medications                     2%

sources:
1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures—1997. Atlanta, GA: 1999.
2. Renehan A. Obesity and overall cancer risk. Presented at the Joint ECCO 15-34th ESMO Multidisciplinary Congress. Berlin, Germany, September 20-24, 2009. Abstract I-327.
3. Tonstad S, Butler T, Yan R, Fraser GE. Type of vegetarian diet, body weight, and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009;32:791-796.
4. Minamoto T, Mai M, Ronai Z. Environmental factors as regulators and effectors of multistep carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis. 1999;20(4):519-527.
5. Skog KI, Johansson MAE, Jagerstad MI. Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in model systems and cooked foods: a review on formation, occurrence, and intake. Food and Chem Toxicol. 1998;36:879-896.
6. Cummings JH, Bingham SA. Diet and the prevention of cancer. BMJ. 1998;317:1636-1640.

source: www.pcrm.org


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An ‘Epidemic’ of Fragranced Products is Affecting Our Health, New Research Suggests

The recent trend for “cleaner,” more natural, unprocessed foods for improved health and well-being has also led to a shift towards household and beauty products that are also more natural and without preservatives, and possibly for good reason.

According to recent research, consumers’ extra attention to what they are putting on their bodies and in their homes could be beneficial for health, with a new study finding that one in three Australians report health problems related to fragranced products.

Professor Anne Steinemann from the University of Melbourne School of Engineering led a survey of a random sample of 1,098 people taken from a large, web-based panel held by Survey Sampling International (SSI).

She found that when exposed to fragranced products, 33 per cent of Australians suffer a variety of adverse health effects, including breathing difficulties, headaches, dizziness, rashes, congestion, seizures, nausea, and a range of other physical problems.

In addition, the results also showed that 7.7 per cent of Australians have lost workdays or a job in the past year due to illnesses caused by exposure to fragranced products in their workplace, and 16.7 per cent want to leave a shop or business as quickly as possible if they smell air fresheners or other fragranced products.

A survey in Australia found that as many as
one in three consumers experience health problems from fragrance.

“This is an epidemic,” said Professor Steinemann commenting on the findings, “Fragranced products are creating health problems across Australia. The effects can be immediate, severe and potentially disabling. But they can also be subtle, and people may not realize they’re being affected.”

Professor Steinemann’s previous research in the U.S. found similar results, revealing that 34.7 per cent of people experience health problems when exposed to fragranced products.

Fragranced products – which can include air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and personal care products – give off a range of chemicals including hazardous air pollutants, with Professor Steinemann adding that, “All types of fragranced products tested – even those with claims of ‘green,’ ‘organic,’ and ‘all-natural’-emitted hazardous air pollutants.”

According to Greenbiz, half of all consumer products contain fragrance, and more than 3,000 chemicals can add fragrance to consumer goods worldwide.

Although what product information is required to be disclosed to consumers varies in each country, fragrance ingredients are exempt from full disclosure in any product, not only in the U.S. but also internationally. Often, labeling is vague, with many ingredients just coming under the umbrella of fragrance.

Professor Steinemann’s research will now continue to investigate why fragrance chemicals are causing health problems, and what their effect may be in indoor environments.

The findings can be found published online in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports with more information also available on Professor Steinemann’s own website.

Information for consumers about products can also be found on www.ewg.org

Relaxnews   Tuesday, March 7, 2017
 


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Strawberries Remain at Top of Pesticide List, Report Says

An annual report by the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. That’s down 6.6 percentage points from last year.

The EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, released Wednesday, ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

This year, strawberries remained at the top of the list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides, while sweet corn and avocados were ranked as having the lowest concentration.

What are pesticides?

Pesticides are widely used in producing food to control pests such as insects, rodents, weeds, bacteria, mold and fungus. In addition to their uses in agriculture, pesticides are used to protect public health by controlling organisms that carry tropical diseases, such as mosquitoes.

Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans, according to the World Health Organization. They may have negative effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems, cause cancer and lead to other problems.

Pesticide residue can remain on fruits and vegetables even after they are washed and, in some cases, peeled, according to the report.

However, a report by the USDA in 2014 found that “overall pesticide chemical residues on foods tested were at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency” and were not a safety concern to consumers.

The Dirty Dozen

Produce that tested positive for various pesticides and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce is featured on the list, known as the “Dirty Dozen.”

Starting with the highest amounts of pesticide residue, the list features strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.
Strawberries remained at the top of the list with at least 20 pesticides, while spinach jumped into the second spot with twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

Americans eat nearly 8 pounds of fresh strawberries per person each year, and even when they are rinsed in the field and washed before eating, they are still most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group.

In 2016, spinach was ranked eighth, but the latest numbers from the USDA showed a sharp increase in pesticide residues on non-organic spinach since the crop was last tested eight years ago.

The pesticides responsible for the residues included three fungicides and one insecticide called permethrin, which has been linked to tremors and seizures in the nervous systems of animals and insects.

The newest additions to the list were pears and potatoes, which replaced cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year.

The Clean Fifteen

Produce that had relatively fewer pesticides and lower total concentrations of pesticide residues was placed on the group’s “Clean Fifteen” list.

This list included, in order, sweet corn (including corn on the cob and frozen corn), avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

Only 1% of samples showed any detectable pesticides in avocados and sweet corn, which were deemed the cleanest produce.

More than 80% of pineapples, papaya, asparagus, onions and cabbage that were sampled showed no pesticide residue.

Methodology

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group, analyzed more than 36,000 samples taken by personnel at the USDA and the FDA who mimicked consumer practices by first washing or peeling the produce.

To compare the fruits and vegetables, the group came up with a composite score for each type of produce based on six measures of contamination. Some of the measures include the percent of the sample tested with detectable pesticides and the average number of pesticides found on a single sample.

Shopping smart

Nutrition experts support the findings and even use the list to make recommendations to their own patients.

“I believe that this is an important source of information,” said Corinne Bush, a clinical nutritionist who was not part of the research.

Bush warns that some pesticides that do not exceed thresholds established by the EPA can still be very harmful, since low-level exposure over time can have extremely damaging effects.

The Environmental Working Group recommends buying organic produce whenever possible to reduce exposure to pesticides.

“If you don’t want to feed your family food contaminated with pesticides, the EWG Shopper’s Guide helps you make smart choices, whether you’re buying conventional or organic produce,” Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the group, said in a news release.

“Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic. If you can’t buy organic, the Shopper’s Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides.”

By Johanzynn Gatewood  (CNN)      Wed March 8, 2017