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A Few Bad Apples...

Wednesday, March 1, 2000

A Few Bad Apples...

Pesticides in Your Produce Why Supermarkets should ‘Test and Tell’

View and Download our full report here: A Few Bad Apples

Laboratory tests of apples grown in Washington State and purchased in Seattle supermarkets over the past five months found widespread insecticide contamination. Eight percent of apple samples had unsafe levels of a bug killer abruptly banned for use on apples and other foods in August, 1999 by federal authorities because of nervous system risks to children. Twenty percent of the samples had residues of another potent insecticide that Washington State’s Department of Ecology has targeted for a ban because of health and environmental concerns. Several other highly toxic compounds were found, including chlorpyrifos (Dursban/Lorsban), a widely used roach and bug spray that, according to the U.S. EPA, is unsafe for children in all common indoor applications, even when used as directed (EPA1999).

In all, 84 percent of the more than 125 pounds of Washington State apples sampled tested positive for pesticides in a battery of laboratory analyses. Half of the five-pound bags tested had more than one pesticide, and some had as many as four. Eight different pesticides were found in all. More extensive tests probably would have found additional chemicals, based on government studies.

The testing program was commissioned by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, a public health watchdog organization, to help consumers and grocers respond to growing federal concerns about major apple pesticides and to help fill a threeyear information gap in federal pesticide tests on apples.

Given the extent of the contamination, and the types and levels of pesticides detected, consumers should purchase certified organic apples this season if they wish to avoid exposure to chemicals that have raised safety concerns with federal regulators.

View and Download our full report here: A Few Bad Apples