Apples Top the "Dirty Dozen" List of Most Pesticide-Contaminated Produce

Want some fruit with your chemicals?
Jun 14, 2011
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.
To avoid pesticides, you should buy organic apples. (Photo: Getty Images).

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, as long as it's organic. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for more trips to the doctor's office. 

That's because 98 percent of conventionally grown apples were found to be contaminated with pesticides, according to a recent study released by the Environmental Working Group on Monday. And that was AFTER they had been washed.

This was the seventh year in a row that EWG analyzed 53 fruits and vegetables and found many containing pesticides even after they were washed and peeled. 

The 12 with the highest contamination levels get the dubious honor of landing on the "Dirty Dozen" list. Those with the lowest concentrations of pesticides make the "Clean 15" list. 

The Dirty Dozen:

    •    Celery

    •    Strawberries

    •    Peaches

    •    Spinach

    •    Apples

    •    Nectarines — imported

    •    Grapes — imported

    •    Sweet Bell Peppers

    •    Potatoes

    •    Blueberries — domestic

    •    Lettuce

    •    Kale/Collard Greens

Clean 15:


    Sweet Corn




    Sweet Peas



    Cantaloupe — domestic




    Sweet Potatoes



Other notable findings include:

Herb cilantro makes an appearance for the first time. EWG found 33 unapproved pesticides on nearly half of all the cilantro samples tested, the highest percentage of unapproved pesticides on any item tested since the EWG started tracking data in 1995.

Cherries dropped off the dirty dozen list, but lettuce found its way back on. 

Pesticides are associated with a host of health problems in humans, including neurological deficits, ADHD, endocrine system disruption, and cancer.

The EWG estimates that consumers who choose five servings of fruits and vegetables from the Clean 15 list rather than the Dirty Dozen list can reduce their consumption of pesticides by 92 percent. 

Get EWG's full guide here

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