Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PESTICIDES: THEIR RISKS & HOW WE CAN REDUCE THOSE RISKS

I copied this info from: http://www.foodnews.org/reduce.php


As you may know, pesticides can have carcinogenic effects in our bodies. I thought this info from this site outlines this well.


The site also has a great chart that you can download which lists the fresh foods that are most heavily sprayed with pesticides ('The Dirty Dozen'). An addition I would like to add are non-organic berries.


The site also lists the least sprayed produce ('The Clean 15').


I have inserted the full list at the end of this blog entry.



Pesticide Health Effects: The Latest Science

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

Pesticides are unique among the chemicals we release into the environment; they have inherent toxicity because they are designed to kill living organisms – insects, plants, and fungi that are considered "pests." Because they are toxic by design, many pesticides pose health risks to people, risks that have been acknowledged by independent research scientists and physicians across the world.

Ignorance Does Not Equal Safety

Even in the face of a growing body of evidence, pesticide manufacturers continue to defend their products, claiming that the amounts of pesticides on produce are not sufficient to elicit safety concerns. Yet, such statements are often made in the absence of actual data, since most safety tests done for regulatory agencies are not designed to discover whether low dose exposures to mixtures of pesticides and other toxic chemicals are safe, particularly during critical periods of development. In general, the government demands, and companies conduct, high dose studies designed to find gross, obvious toxic effects. In the absence of the appropriate tests at lower doses, pesticide and chemical manufacturers claim safety since the full effects of exposure to these mixtures of chemicals have not been conclusively demonstrated (or even studied).

The majority of the U.S. population has detectable concentrations of multiple pesticide residues in their bodies, as detected in biomonitoring studies by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ubiquitous pesticide exposures are further compounded by exposure to hundreds of industrial chemicals that contaminate human bodies and are even found in the developing fetus. The full health effects of exposure to these mixtures of chemicals are not yet known; true public health protection would require a consideration of cumulative risks of exposure to multiple toxic chemicals at a time.

Children Are Especially at Risk

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.

Doesn't The Government Regulate These Chemicals?

When consumers realize the magnitude of the health threat posed by pesticides, they naturally wonder: Doesn't the government regulate these toxic chemicals? The answer is that, unfortunately for human and environmental health, government action has been far too slow. It is important to remember that the government said that highly toxic pesticides like DDT, chlordane, dursban and others were safe right up to the day the EPA banned them. And considering that we are talking about toxic chemicals whose effects on children's health may be irreversible, no delay is justifiable.

The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 was designed to require protection of infants and children from pesticides. This law produced several notable achievements and fundamentally improved the health standards in pesticide law by requiring explicit protection of infants and children. But a lot remains to be done, especially in protecting human health from pesticide mixtures and chemicals that have endocrine disrupting properties. Not surprisingly, pesticide makers and agribusiness groups have been fighting strict application of the statute, particularly provisions that require an extra 10-fold level of protection for infants and children.

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.
Each of us can opt for food safety today by choosing to purchase produce low in pesticides and by buying organically-raised fruits and vegetables as frequently as possible. With this first step we can protect our families' health and preserve our own future and the future of the environment from the harmful effects of pesticides.

The Full List: 47 Fruits & Veggies

RANK FRUIT OR VEGGIE SCORE
1 (worst)Peach100 (highest pesticide load)
2Apple93
3Sweet Bell Pepper83
4Celery82
5Nectarine81
6Strawberries80
7Cherries73
8Kale69
9Lettuce67
10Grapes - Imported66
11Carrot63
12Pear63
13Collard Greens60
14Spinach58
15Potato56
16Green Beans53
17Summer Squash53
18Pepper51
19Cucumber50
20Rasberries46
21Grapes - Domestic44
22Plum44
23Orange44
24Cauliflower39
25Tangerine37
26Mushrooms36
27Banana34
28Winter Squash34
29Cantaloupe33
30Cranberries33
31Honeydew Melon30
32Grapefruit29
33Sweet Potato29
34Tomato29
35Broccoli28
36Watermelon26
37Papaya20
38Eggplant20
39Cabbage17
40Kiwi13
41Sweet Peas - Frozen10
42Asparagus10
43Mango9
44Pineapple7
45Sweet Corn - Frozen2
46Avocado1
47 (best)Onion1 (lowest pesticide load)

Note: We ranked a total of 47 different fruits and vegetables but grapes are listed twice because we looked at both domestic and imported samples.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Heidi,

You have touched on a subject that has become near and dear to my heart. Have you read Michael Pollen's great books The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Botany of Desire, and In defense of food". Great reads. I also just finished Animal, Veritable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Powerful stuff while still being a fun "page burner" read!

I have some of these in mp3 format if they tickle your fancy!

Nothing is more intimate than food. We vote three times a day what to put inside ourselves, and our kids. It literally becomes our living flesh, yet we often give it scant regard not caring where it came from, how it was grown, and how it got from earth to plate. Multi Nationals are now playing God with our seeds and I was sad to see that Monsanto GMO corn and soy were pervasive in SA. If you get a chance look for the torrent "The World according to Monsanto" - scary, but ignorance is no defence!

I am an active member of www.slowfood.com. There charter is broad but encompasses so much of what I feel is important about food. If there is a SA chapter you should look into it.

The Petersen household today includes an ever expanding veggie garden, and multi planting fruit orchard designed specifically for urban dwellers with matchbox size lots like mine. Growing food has opened my eye's and dare I say soul in ways I am still trying to comprehend. We are members of a local CSA (community Supported Agriculture) and every two weeks we get a box of organic veggies which never fails to entertain and baffle the mediocre chef's in Kaz and I. It is amazing how many great veggies / fruits we receive that we have no idea what they are called which renders Google rather useless.

Anyway, enough! I am so glad you are in recovery.

Keep well. Love to Glenn and the fam.

Ed / Kaz / Justin / Bradley

LiveHeidi

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