Advocacy group: 70 percent of US produce retains pesticide residues after being washed

Advocacy group: 70 percent of US produce retains pesticide residues after being washed
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About 70 percent of U.S. produce retains pesticide residues even after washing, according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The health advocacy group’s annual analysis of Department of Agriculture data found that kale, spinach and strawberries have some of the highest levels of residue. Avocados, pineapples and sweetcorn had the lowest levels.

More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and kale tested positive for residues of at least two pesticides.

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For kale, more than 92 percent of conventionally grown samples had at least two residues, according to the report, with some containing residues from as many as 18 different pesticides.

“We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal,” EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin said in a statement. “Fruits and vegetables are an important part of everyone’s diet, and when it comes to some conventionally grown produce items, such as kale, choosing organic may be a better option.”

Almost 60 percent of the kale samples tested positive for Dacthal, or DCPA, a possible carcinogen that was banned for use on crops in the European Union in 2009. EWG-commissioned tests on store-bought kale found comparable levels of Dacthal on two of eight samples.

Kale and spinach samples had 10 percent to 80 percent more pesticide residues by weight than any other crop, according to EWG data.