August 15 2013
Calculate Your Risk from Pesticide Residues
Ever worry how much pesticide residue you consume daily? Environmental activists, particularly at the Environmental Working Group, suggest that you can reduce your risks—and fears--by eating fewer of the fruits and vegetables with the highest residues, such as apples, and more of others, such as onions. IWF’s Julie Gunlock and I along with many others have pointed out why EWG’s claims are simply wrong.
But I just found a fabulous and fun new tool that not only proves EWG wrong, it shows how stupid the group’s claims really are. It’s a pesticide residue calculator developed using data from a report by Dr. Robert Krieger, director of the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at University of California, Riverside. The calculator uses U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) risk assessments and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) residue data to determine the safe exposure level for each fruit and vegetable. You will see here that you would have to eat hundreds of fruits and veggies to simply reach EPA-determined safe levels.
For example, consider apples, which EWG says are the “dirtiest” of all fruits and vegetables. To reach the EPA safe pesticide residue level, a woman would have to eat 529 apples a day! She would have to feed her pre-teen-aged child 154 apples a day, 298 to her teen agers, and 571 to her husband for any of them to reach their EPA safe levels. And given that EPA standards are extremely stringent and they tend to overestimate risk by multiples of 1,000, you might be able to multiply these daily apple consumption levels by 1,000 and still not reach a truly dangerous dose.
Of course nobody in their right mind would eat this much, which underscores why nobody in their right mind should listen to the Environmental Working Group!