In its biannual shopper’s guide, the Environmental Working Group reports that 75% of non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of harmful pesticides.
In the report released Wednesday, the EWG said strawberries led the list with the most pesticides.
The EWG data comes from 46,569 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables tested by the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. The USDA peels or scrubs and washes produce, while the FDA removes dirt before testing. After these steps, traces of 251 different pesticides were detected.
The EWG said some of the tests included traces of pesticides long banned by the EPA.
“Any exposure to pesticides is a problem, given what we know about several ways they can harm humans. But the findings are particularly concerning for children, who are particularly vulnerable to many of the health harms associated with pesticide exposure,” the EWG said in its report.
The report ranks the following 12 fruits and vegetables as having the most detected pesticides:
3. Kale, collard and mustard greens
9. Bell and hot peppers
12. Green beans
The EWG said 90% of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and grapes tested positive for residue of two or more pesticides. The report listed the following 10 as having the fewest detected pesticides:
2. Sweet corn
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
8. Honeydew melon
The EWG noted that 98% of avocados and sweet corn had no detectable pesticides.
The EPA says the health effects of pesticides can vary based on the type of chemical. The World Health Organization says all pesticides should be tested for health effects before being used on food.
“They may induce adverse health effects including cancer, effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems,” WHO said.