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Reduce your Exposure to Pesticides

Updated at: Jan 17, 2013
Exercise & Fitness
Written by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Oct 24, 2011
Reduce your Exposure to Pesticides

Reduce your Exposure to Pesticides

We think that we are eating well by including fresh vegetables and fruits in our diet. But are we really having healthy food? Most of these foods have a coat of pesticides sprayed on them during the growing process to keep pests at bay. Pesticides are chemicals sprayed on food products while they are growing by the farmers to keep bugs, fungi, and other pests from destroying and eating the produce and plants. Residual amount of these chemicals are present on the food when it gets to the grocery store. Exposure to large amount of these chemicals can be harmful.

Pesticides and Food Safety: Are Pesticides Dangerous?


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30% of pesticides used for growing foods can be potentially harmful. Although in the developed countries like the US there are norms to regulate use of these chemicals sadly there are not enough norms in India and even if there are some regulations they are not followed.

The residual amount of pesticides on foods is usually small but it can accumulate in your body over time and increase the risk of several health problems significantly. This is especially a concern for young children as they are likely to be more sensitive to pesticides than adults and their food intake is more for their weight as compared to adults. Similarly in pregnant women they’re particularly dangerous as it can affect the growing fetus.


Some research shows that ingestion or pesticide exposure can cause:

  • Problems with motor skills, behavioral problems and disorders, or delayed development and growth in children
  • Increase risk of certain cancers
  • Respiratory problems like asthma


Pesticides and Food Safety: Foods With Pesticides


Residual amount of pesticides are present on the food when it gets to you. If you eat the food product along skin it is going to have more pesticides. Peeling removes the pesticides but experts say that if a fruit can be eaten with peel ---do not remove the peel as it has a lot of fiber and other nutrients.


Some fruits and vegetables which generally have higher concentrations of pesticides are;

  • Fruits like peaches, nectarines, cherries, strawberries, grapes, raspberries, pears and apples
  • Vegetables like potatoes, spinach, bell peppers and celery

By contrast, fruits and vegetables with a lower concentration of pesticides include;

  • Fruits like avocado, mangoes, kiwi fruit, papaya, pineapples and bananas
  • Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, onions, sweet corn and sweet peas


Pesticides and Food Safety: How to Limit Your Exposure


Many people wonder what can I do to limit my exposure to pesticides? This is especially important for children, pregnant women and women feeding a child.


Some experts say that consider organic foods. Organic foods are becoming increasingly popular and more and more local grocery stores and supermarkets have organic foods. People who indulge in organic foods consider it to be better for health. Organic foods are grown or raised without using any pesticides or harmful chemicals.


Other steps that can help to decrease the amount of pesticides on your food are;

  • Use detergent like the dishwashing soap to wash fresh fruits and vegetables. This can help to remove pesticides, and if needed use a scrub brush. Rinse the fruits and vegetables well while washing to take out the soap.
  • For soft products like berries, plums which can not be scrubbed wash them thoroughly with water.
  • Peel fruits like apples, pears, and peaches, before eating. This should be especially done for children.


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