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You are watching: Dirty dozen fruits and vegetables 2016’s 2021 Shopper’s overview to pesticides in Produce™

Over 90 Percent that Non-Organic Citrus fruit Contain Fungicides attached to Cancer and also Hormone Disruption

By science Team

MARCH 17, 2021


Nearly 70 percent that the non-organic fresh develop sold in the U.S. Contains residues of perhaps harmful chemical pesticides, follow to’s analysis of the recent test data indigenous the federal Department that Agriculture. This year, in addition to the items on our Dirty Dozen™ and also Clean Fifteen™ lists, is highlighting harmful fungicides detect on citrus fruit tested through USDA, as well as in tests us commissioned.

Imazalil, a fungicide that can readjust hormone levels and also is share by the environmental Protection agency as a likely human being carcinogen, to be detected on virtually 90 percent that citrus samples tested by in 2020, and over 95 percent of tangerine samples experiment by the USDA in 2019.Kale stays in the 3rd spot on ours Dirty Dozen list, now joined by collard and mustard greens together being amongst the develop items through the highest possible pesticide load. After gift tested for the an initial time because 2012 and 2011, respectively, bell peppers and hot peppers are likewise included in this year’s perform in the 10th spot.

In USDA’s many recent tests, the pesticide most typically detected ~ above collard and also mustard greens – as is also the instance with kale – is DCPA, offered under the brand name Dacthal. The EPA classifies DCPA together a possible human carcinogen, and in 2009 the europe Union banned it. Other problematic pesticide on greens include the possibly neurotoxic neonicotinoids and also pyrethroids.

As they have in previous years, peppers tho contain concerning levels that acephate and also chlorpyrifos – organophosphate insecticides the can harm children’s arising brains and are banned from usage on some plants in the U.S. And entirely in the EU. In 2017, under the trumped administration, the EPA rubbish a propose chlorpyrifos ban, enabling it to continue to be on the market and also in foods.

Whether organic or conventionally grown, fruits and also vegetables are vital components the a healthy diet. However, many crops contain perhaps harmful pesticides, also after washing, peeling or scrubbing, i m sorry the USDA does prior to testing every item. Since pesticide air pollution varies by crop, it is crucial to recognize which items are many or least contaminated. Additionally, fresh items the are most contaminated, such together spinach, strawberries and also other Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables, still have actually high level of pesticide in their frozen forms.

Also crucial to keep in mind is the the USDA does not test for every pesticides supplied in chop production. High level of glyphosate can be uncovered in numerous grains and beans, such as oats and chickpeas, as result of its boosting use as a pre-harvest drying agent. Notably, the USDA accumulated hundreds that samples that oats and chickpeas in 2019, and glyphosate, or Roundup – the most greatly used pesticide in the U.S. – is known to be offered on these crops. Yet the USDA has not analyzed them for glyphosate.

*"s Dirty Dozen for 2021

NectarinesGrapesCherriesPeachesPearsBell and also hot peppersCeleryTomatoes

Of the 46 items consisted of in our analysis, these Dirty Dozen foodstuffs were contaminated with more pesticides than other crops, follow to our analysis of USDA data.1 (The rankings are based not only on the percentage of samples v pesticides but additionally on the number and also amount of pesticides on all samples and on separation, personal, instance samples. Watch Methodology.) vital findings:

More 보다 90 percent of samples that strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and leafy greens tested hopeful for residues of 2 or more pesticides.A solitary sample that kale, collard and also mustard greens had up to 20 different pesticides.On average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by load as any other crop tested.Hot peppers and bell peppers had the most pesticides detected, 115 pesticides in total and 21 more pesticides than the plants with the second highest quantity – kale, collard and mustard greens.
*"s Clean Fifteen for 2021

AvocadosSweet cornPineappleOnionsPapayaSweet peas (frozen)EggplantAsparagusBroccoliCabbageKiwiCauliflowerMushroomsHoneydew melonCantaloupes

These 15 items had actually the lowest quantities of pesticide residues, according to’s evaluation of the many recent USDA data.1 crucial findings:

Avocados and sweet corn to be the cleanest. Fewer 보다 2 percent of samples showed any type of detectable pesticides.The an initial seven Clean Fifteen crops tested hopeful for three or fewer pesticides on a single sample.Almost 70 percent the Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had no pesticide residues.Multiple pesticide residual water are very rare ~ above Clean Fifteen vegetables. Just 8 percent that Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had two or more pesticides.See the full list of fruits and vegetables.

Health benefits of Reducing diet Pesticide Exposure

Organic criter prohibit the usage of artificial pesticides, among other things. Eating organic food reduces pesticide exposure and is attached to a range of health and wellness benefits, follow to an article published this year in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients.2 In 4 separate clinical trials, world who switched from traditionally grown come organic foodstuffs saw a rapid and also dramatic reduction in your urinary pesticide concentrations, a marker of pesticide exposure. Added studies have linked higher consumption of organic foodstuffs to reduced urinary pesticide levels, boosted fertility and also birth outcomes, reduced incidence that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lower BMI and also reduced danger of form 2 diabetes.4

Researchers native Harvard University supplied USDA test data and methods comparable to our to classify develop as having high or low pesticides. Remarkably, your lists that high and low pesticide plants largely overlap v our Dirty Dozen and also Clean Fifteen.

Fertility studies" classification of pesticide residues
High pesticide residue scoreApples, to apologize sauces, blueberries, grapes, green beans, irpari greens, pears, peaches, potatoes, plums, spinach, strawberries, raisins, sweet peppers, tomatoes, winter squash
Low to moderate pesticide residue scoreApple juice, avocados, bananas, beans, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, eggplant, grapefruit, lentils, lettuce, onions, oranges, orange juice, peas, prunes, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tofu, tomato sauces, zucchini

The Harvard researchers likewise found that people who ate higher quantities of plants high in pesticide had greater levels the urinary pesticides and also lower fertility.5,6 Alternatively, people who ate a pro-fertility diet, which included the short pesticide crops, among other foods and also nutrients, like whole grains and folic acid, were much more likely to have actually a effective pregnancy.7

From these studies, that is unclear whether the hopeful effects associated with organic foods are directly and also exclusively brought about by reduced pesticide exposures.People who eat greater amounts of organic develop tend to be more health-conscious in general, making it complicated to recognize the exact cause of an observed wellness outcome. Clinical trials – in i beg your pardon participants space monitored before and also after convert to an organic diet – might be much better able to determine cause-and-effect links in between diet and also outcomes.

But so far, the clinical trials because that organic foods items have been momentary studies, spanning days or months, although health benefits from eating organic foods items may take it much longer to come to be evident. Until permanent clinical trials space completed, the published observational studies administer the finest evidence in support of eat organic.

In 2012, the American Academy that Pediatrics issued critical report that said children have “unique susceptibilities to potential toxicity.” The academy cited study that connected pesticide exposures in early life come pediatric cancers, reduced cognitive role and behavioral problems. It advised its members to urge parents come consult “reliable resources that carry out information on the family member pesticide content of miscellaneous fruits and vegetables.” A an essential resource the cited was’s Shopper’s overview to pesticides in Produce.8

An examination published critical year uncovered that for many pesticides, the EPA does not apply added restrictions to safeguard children’s health. The landmark 1996 Food Quality security Act forced the EPA to defend children’s health and wellness by using an extra margin of security to legal boundaries for pesticide in food. Yet, as our examination found, this tenfold margin of safety was not had in the EPA’s allowable borders for practically 90 percent of the most typical pesticides.

Genetically Engineered Crops

Genetically engineered crops, or GMOs, space most typically found in processed foods rather 보다 in fresh produce. Corn syrup and corn oil, developed from predominantly GMO starchy field corn, are frequently found in handle foods. However, friend may find genetically amendment zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, papaya and apples in U.S. Markets, though just papayas are mainly GMO.

Under a regulation passed in 2016, beginning in 2022, some GMO food products in the U.S. Must be labeled. However, based upon the final dominance released in 2018, this labels may be complicated to interpret, with confusing terms favor “bioengineered.” until the regulation takes effect, consumer who desire to avoid GMOs may pick organic zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, papaya, apples and also potatoes. Processed goods that room certified necessary or be affected by each other Non-GMO project Verified labels can additionally be trusted to it is in GMO-free. gives several sources – including’s Shopper’s overview To staying clear of GMO Food, the Food Scores database and also’s healthy Living app – to assist consumers identify foods items likely come contain genetically engineered ingredients.


Pesticide Regulations

The commonwealth government’s role in protecting ours health, farm workers and also the environment from harmful pesticide is in urgent require of reform. In the U.S., pesticide regulation, monitoring and enforcement is scattered throughout multiple federal and state agencies. In 1991 the USDA initiated the Pesticide Data Program and also began testing assets annually because that pesticide residues, yet we stay concerned around pesticide regulation and oversight in the U.S.

The USDA claims that a score of its test is to carry out data ~ above pesticide residual water in food, v a emphasis on those most likely eaten by infants and children. Back no products are tested annually, part – consisting of baby food, last tested in 2013, and also baby formula, last tested in 2014 – room tested specifically infrequently. Additionally, some pesticides room not tested, such as glyphosate, despite being the most widely used pesticide in the U.S.

This is troubling, due to the fact that tests i was delegated by found practically three-fourths the samples of famous oat-based foods, including numerous popular with children, had actually pesticide residue levels greater than what scientists consider protective of children health.

The chief duty of deciding i m sorry pesticides room approved for use in the U.S., consisting of deciding what problems are inserted on their approval and setting the pesticide residue level on foods and crops, falls to the EPA. Yet primary enforcement authority for pesticide use on farms is left to states, and also the obligation of testing foods to identify dietary exposures to pesticides is divided in between the USDA and also the Food and Drug Administration. However, no the USDA nor the FDA on regular basis tests all products for pesticide residues, nor perform the programs check for every pesticides commonly used in agriculture.

The main pesticide law – the federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and also Rodenticide Act, or FIFRA – is much less health protective than the laws that safeguard the safety of our air, food, water and also environment.

The pesticide registration procedure requires carriers to submit safety data, propose uses and product labels because that approval by the EPA. However, the EPA does not conduct its own independent testing of pesticides. No does the review totally capture the dangers posed by pesticides, due to the fact that of restrictions in easily accessible data and failures in danger assessments, such together excluding synergistic effects. This is concerning, because scientists have uncovered that the combination of two or much more pesticides have the right to be more potent 보다 the usage of the pesticide individually.

Given these countless inadequacies, the no wonder that numerous of the most toxic pesticides banned by other countries are still permitted for usage in the U.S. That is why has called on president Biden to ban or restrict few of the most harmful pesticide still offered today.


The Shopper’s guide ranks pesticide pollution on 46 renowned fruits and also vegetables based upon an evaluation of more than 46,075 samples taken by the USDA and the FDA. Yearly the USDA selects a subset of this fruits and also vegetables to test, quite than testing each chop each year.

To produce this guide, offers data native the many recent one-to-two-year sampling duration for each food. Since the USDA doesn’t check honeydew melon, supplies the FDA’s pesticide surveillance data because that this crop.

Apples2015-2016USDA PDP
Asparagus2017-2019USDA PDP
Avocados2012USDA PDP
Bananas2019USDA PDP
Blueberries2014USDA PDP
Broccoli2014USDA PDP
Cabbage2017-2019USDA PDP
Cantaloupe2011-2012, 2019USDA PDP
Carrots2014USDA PDP
Cauliflower2012-2013USDA PDP
Celery2014USDA PDP
Cherries2014-2016USDA PDP
Cherry tomatoes2012USDA PDP
Cucumbers2015-2017USDA PDP
Eggplant2006USDA PDP
Grapefruit2015-2017USDA PDP
Grapes2016USDA PDP
Green beans2013-2016USDA PDP
Hot peppers2019USDA PDP
Kale, collard and also mustard greens2017-2019USDA PDP
Lettuce2015-2017USDA PDP
Mangoes2017-2018USDA PDP
Mushrooms2012-2013USDA PDP
Nectarines2014-2015 USDA PDP
Onions2017USDA PDP
Oranges2016USDA PDP
Papaya2011-2012USDA PDP
Peaches2014-2015USDA PDP
Pears2016USDA PDP
Pineapple2002USDA PDP
Plums2012-2013USDA PDP
Potatoes2016USDA PDP
Raspberries2013USDA PDP
Snap peas2017-2018USDA PDP
Spinach2016USDA PDP
Strawberries2015-2016USDA PDP
Summer squash2012-2014USDA PDP
Sweet bell peppers2011-2012USDA PDP
Sweet corn2014-2015USDA PDP
Sweet peas (frozen)2018-2019USDA PDP
Sweet potatoes2016-2018USDA PDP
Tangerines2012, 2019USDA PDP
Tomatoes2015-2016USDA PDP
Watermelon2014-2015USDA PDP
Winter squash2012-2013USDA PDP

Before testing, the USDA procedures each fruit or vegetable in the same method that people tend to perform at home. For example, items with inedible peels space peeled, and those v edible peels space rinsed under cold water and drained prior to testing. Therefore, the USDA test outcomes are a an excellent indication that consumers’ likely exposure. Unprocessed create tends come have higher concentrations of pesticides, as shown by testing by the California room of Pesticide Regulation.

To to compare foods, considers six steps of pesticide contamination:

Percent that samples tested with detectable pesticides.Percent that samples through two or an ext detectable pesticides.Average number of pesticides discovered on a solitary sample.Average quantity of pesticide found, measure in components per million.Maximum number of pesticides found on a solitary sample.Total number of pesticides discovered on the crop.

Within every of these categories, we ranked the 46 fruits and also vegetables and then normalized the ranks on a range of 1 come 100, v 100 gift the highest. For each food, we calculated a full score by summing the normalized rank from each metric. All categories are weighted equally, due to the fact that they convey different however equally pertinent information about pesticide level on produce. The USDA test program contains both domestically grown and imported produce, and sometimes ranking differ ~ above the basis of origin. In these cases, we shown domestic and also imported items individually to assist you choose the alternative with the shortest pesticide levels.

The Shopper"s Guide full list shows just how fruits and vegetables rank based upon these total scores.

The Shopper’s guide does no incorporate hazard assessment into the calculations. All pesticides room weighted equally, and we execute not factor in the levels considered acceptable by the EPA. Research study is continually providing brand-new insights right into the dangers posed come human and environmental health by pesticides. draft this technique to catch this apprehension and enable consumers to minimize their in its entirety pesticide load.

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NOTE: as all Americans continue to it is adapted to the fact of day-to-day life during the spread out of the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital to know that there is no evidence world can be exposed through food. The spread out pattern that the coronavirus is quite different from the of foodborne pathogens choose salmonella and E.coli. The is why, also though the dangers of Covid-19 room serious, consumers should continue to eat many of healthy and balanced fruits and vegetables, even if it is they are traditionally grown or organic.

This article was adjusted and updated indigenous the 2019 Shopper’s Guide.


USDA, Pesticide Data Program. Farming Marketing Service. Easily accessible at:, V., et al., A Systematic testimonial of necessary Versus standard Food Consumption: Is there a Measurable benefit on human being Health? Nutrients, 2020; 12(1), 7. DOI: Obtainable at: et al. Prospective association between organicfood consumption and the danger of type 2 diabetes: findings from the NutriNet-Santé cohort study. Worldwide Journal of behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2020; 17 DOI: 10.1186/s12966-020-01038-y accessible at:, E., et al., Diet as a source of Exposure to eco-friendly Contaminants for Pregnant Women and also Children from six European Countries. Ecological Health Perspectives, 2019; 127(10). DOI: Easily accessible at:, Y.H., et al., Association between Pesticide Residue entry from intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Pregnancy Outcomes amongst Women undergoing Infertility treatment With assistance Reproductive Technology. JAMA interior Medicine, 2018. DOI: 10.1001/amainternmed.2017.5038. Obtainable at:, Y.H., et al. Comparison of questionnaire-based estimation of pesticide residue intake indigenous fruits and also vegetables with urinary concentrations of pesticide biomarkers. Newspaper of Exposure Science and also Environmental Epidemiology, 2018; 28, 31-39. DOI: Accessible at: A.J., et al. Dietary patterns and also outcomes of helped reproduction. American newspaper of Obstetrics and also Gynecology, 2019; 220:567.e1-18. Doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2019.02.004American Academy of Pediatrics, organic Foods: Health and Environmental benefits and Disadvantages. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition and Council on environmental Health, 2012; e1406 -e1415. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-2579. Easily accessible at

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