Every year, new research is published demonstrating the toxicity of pesticides to human health and the environment, often at doses previously declared "safe" by the pesticide industry and the government.
As acknowledged by the U.S. and international government agencies, different pesticides have been linked with a variety of toxic effects, including:
- Nervous system effects
- Carcinogenic effects
- Hormone system effects
- Skin, eye and lung irritation
Protecting our families' health from chemical exposures can start with minimizing children's exposure to pesticides. It is now well established that pesticides pose a risk to vital organ systems that continue to grow and mature from conception throughout infancy and childhood. Exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals during critical periods of development can have lasting adverse effects both in early development and later in life. The metabolism, physiology, and biochemistry of a fetus, infant or child are fundamentally different from those of adults; a young, organism is often less able to metabolize and inactivate toxic chemicals and can be much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides. The nervous system, brain, reproductive organs and endocrine (hormone) system can be permanently, if subtly, damaged by exposure to toxic substances in-utero or throughout early childhood that, at the same level, cause no measurable harm to adults. The developing brain and endocrine system are very sensitive, and low doses at a susceptible moment of development can cause more of an effect than high doses. It is especially important to reduce pesticide exposures of babies and young children so as to minimize these risks.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk?Addressing the risks of pesticide exposure first and foremost requires information, which is frequently made unavailable to the general public by the government agencies. To counteract this trend for secrecy, EWG believes that:
- People have a right to know what's in their food, so they can choose foods with less pesticides.
- The government can and should take steps to dramatically reduce the number and amount of toxic chemicals, including pesticides, in the food supply.
The following chart ranks the highest (100 score) and lowest (1 score) pesticide loads of popular fruits and veggies.
|RANK||FRUIT OR VEGGIE||SCORE|
|1 (worst)||Peach||100 (highest pesticide load)|
|3||Sweet Bell Pepper||83|
|10||Grapes - Imported||66|
|21||Grapes - Domestic||44|
|41||Sweet Peas - Frozen||10|
|45||Sweet Corn - Frozen||2|
|47 (best)||Onion||1 (lowest pesticide load)|