Environmental and Dietary Carcinogens and Toxins


Generations at Risk - Very good source on reproductive and developmental effects of environmental substances 

Living Downstream - An excellent book discussing cancer and the environment.  Very readable

Silent Spring - Excellent book about protecting our environment

June 2007 Newsweek Article - environmental water chemicals and toxins

Eat Organic - Foodnews.org

  • Reducing Exposure is Smart

    The more that scientists learn about the toxicity of pesticides, the more questions are raised about the potential toxic effects on people. Pesticide manufacturers often portray these unresolved scientific issues, and the uncertainty that comes with them, as safety.

    Statements like, "There is no conclusive evidence of harm to humans" from exposure to pesticide X are intended to mislead the public into believing that exposures to pesticides and toxic chemicals are without appreciable risks. This is not true. Absence of knowledge is not proof of safety.

  • The endocrine (hormone) system is perhaps even more sensitive to toxic exposure than the nervous system, and over the past decade, enormous effort has been put into the study of how pesticides and toxic chemicals interfere with normal endocrine signaling and function. A significant body of research in animals now shows that ultra-low doses of pesticides and toxic chemicals on critical days of development can cause changes in hormone function and effects on organ development and function that often only appear later in life. A growing number of these studies show that low doses at a susceptible moment of development can cause more of an effect than high doses (vom Saal 1997, Alworth 2002, Hayes 2003). This is particularly relevant to childhood and fetal exposures via food and water where the timing of the exposure is at least as important as the dose.

    Many pesticides are now considered "endocrine disrupters", in part because the term is something of a catch phrase for chemicals that cause a variety of changes in normal hormone signaling. Some better known examples of highly toxic endocrine disrupting pesticides are DDT (and its metabolite DDE) which are now known to exhibit much of their toxicity through anti-androgenic (de-masculinizing) properties (ATSDR 2002), vinclozolin, a heavily used fungicide that is also anti-androgenic (EPA 2000), endosulfan, a DDT relative with estrogenic properties that is found more often in food than any other pesticide (EPA 2002, USDA 1994-2004), and atrazine, a weed killer with broad hormonal activity, that contaminates the drinking water of about 20 million people in the United States (EWG 1999, EWG 1995).

    Today scientists know much more about how pesticides can change critical hormone signals in the human body in ways that can have potential life changing effects. Yet in spite of these advances, there is little agreement on how much endocrine disruption is too much, and how much is without harm. The same is true of immune system effects and to a lesser degree effects on the developing nervous system.

  • What's the Difference?

    An EWG simulation of thousands of consumers eating high and low pesticide diets shows that people can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead. Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about 15 pesticides per day, on average. Eating the 12 least contaminated will expose a person to less than 2 pesticides per day. Less dramatic comparisons will produce less dramatic reductions, but without doubt using the Guide provides people with a way to make choices that lower pesticide exposure in the diet.

  • Most Contaminated:
    THE DIRTY DOZEN

    Consistent with two previous EWG investigations, fruits topped the list of the consistently most contaminated fruits and vegetables, with seven of the 12 most contaminated foods. Among the top six were four fruits, with peaches leading the list, then apples, nectarines and strawberries. Cherries, pears, and imported grapes were the other three fruits in the top 12. Among these seven fruits:

  • Nectarines had the highest percentage of samples test positive for pesticides (97.3 percent), followed by peaches (96.6 percent) and apples (92.1 percent).
  • Peaches had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single sample — 86.6 percent had two or more pesticide residues — followed by nectarines (85.3 percent) and apples (78.9 percent).
  • Sweet bell peppers had the most pesticides detected on a single sample with eleven pesticides on a single sample, followed by peaches and apples, where nine pesticides were found on a single sample.
  • Peaches had the most pesticides overall with some combination of up to 42 pesticides found on the samples tested, followed by apples with 37 pesticides strawberries with 35.

Sweet bell peppers, celery, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes are the vegetables most likely to expose consumers to pesticides. Among these five vegetables:

  • Celery had the highest of percentage of samples test positive for pesticides (94.1 percent), followed by sweet bell peppers (81.5 percent) and potatoes (81.0 percent).
  • Celery also had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single vegetable (79.8 percent of samples), followed by sweet bell peppers (62.2 percent) and lettuce (33 percent).
  • Sweet bell peppers was the vegetable with the most pesticides detected on a single sample (11 found on one sample), followed by celery and lettuce (both with nine).
  • Sweet bell peppers were the vegetable with the most pesticides overall with 64, followed by lettuce at 49 and celery with 30.
  • Least Contaminated:
    CONSISTENTLY CLEAN

    The vegetables least likely to have pesticides on them are onions, sweet corn, asparagus, sweet peas, cabbage and broccoli.

  • Nearly three-quarters of the broccoli (71.9 percent), sweet pea (77.1 percent), and cabbage (82.1 percent) samples had no detectable pesticides. Among the other three vegetables on the least-contaminated list, there were no detectable residues on 90 percent or more of the samples.
  • Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on any of these least contaminated vegetables. Cabbage had the highest likelihood, with a 4.8 percent chance of more than one pesticide when ready to eat. Onions and corn both had the lowest chance with zero samples containing more than one pesticide when eaten.
  • The greatest number of pesticides detected on a single sample of any of these low-pesticide vegetables was three as compared to 11 found on sweet bell peppers, the most contaminated crop with the most residues.
  • Broccoli and asparagus both had the most pesticides found on a single vegetable crop at up to 19 pesticides but far fewer than the most contaminated vegetable, sweet bell peppers, on which 64 were found.

The six fruits least likely to have pesticide residues on them are avocados, pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, bananas, and papaya.

  • Fewer than 10 percent of pineapple, mango, and avocado samples had detectable pesticides on them and fewer than one percent of samples had more than one pesticide residue.
  • Though 59 percent of bananas had detectable pesticides, multiple residues are rare with only 2 percent of samples containing more than one residue. Kiwi and papaya had residues on 15.3 percent and 23.5 percent of samples, respectively, and just 3.4 percent and 5.0 percent of samples, respectively, had multiple pesticide residues.

Environmental Working Group

  • The Full List: 43 Fruits & Veggies

    RANK

    FRUIT OR VEGGIE

    SCORE

    1 (worst)

    Peaches

    100 (highest pesticide load)

    2

    Apples

    89

    3

    Sweet Bell Peppers

    86

    4

    Celery

    85

    5

    Nectarines

    84

    6

    Strawberries

    82

    7

    Cherries

    75

    8

    Pears

    65

    9

    Grapes - Imported

    65

    10

    Spinach

    60

    11

    Lettuce

    59

    12

    Potatoes

    58

    13

    Carrots

    57

    14

    Green Beans

    53

    15

    Hot Peppers

    53

    16

    Cucumbers

    52

    17

    Raspberries

    47

    18

    Plums

    45

    19

    Grapes - Domestic

    43

    20

    Oranges

    42

    21

    Grapefruit

    40

    22

    Tangerine

    38

    23

    Mushrooms

    37

    24

    Cantaloupe

    34

    25

    Honeydew Melon

    31

    26

    Tomatoes

    30

    27

    Sweet Potatoes

    30

    28

    Watermelon

    28

    29

    Winter Squash

    27

    30

    Cauliflower

    27

    31

    Blueberries

    24

    32

    Papaya

    21

    33

    Broccoli

    18

    34

    Cabbage

    17

    35

    Bananas

    16

    36

    Kiwi

    14

    37

    Sweet peas - frozen

    11

    38

    Asparagus

    11

    39

    Mango

    9

    40

    Pineapples

    7

    41

    Sweet Corn - frozen

    2

    42

    Avocado

    1

    43 (best)

    Onions

    1 (lowest pesticide load)

    Note: We ranked a total of 43 different fruits and vegetables but grapes are listed twice because we looked at both domestic and imported samples.

  • Will Washing and Peeling Help?

    Nearly all of the data used to create these lists already considers how people typically wash and prepare produce (for example, apples are washed before testing, bananas are peeled). While washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Environmental Working Group

  • Superb resource with a constantly updated list of fruits and vegetables with their pesticide content - see above.  There are links to multiple other databases.

Farm Subsidy Database

  •  A wealth of information of who is receiving how much from the federal government and why.  Search by state,  county, or congressional district.  Crops such as corn and soybeans are subsidized producing a glut in the market and artificially lower the price of corn (high fructose corn syrup) and soybeans (partially hydrogenated omega 6 oil) both of which are extremely bad for your health.

Skin Deep - Personal Care and Cosmetic Database

  • A nice ranking system for these products as to the risk with their use.  The potential harmful chemicals are listed and discussed.

Tap Water Quality Database

  • Nice national, state, local database of contaminants found in water testing.  How does your water check out?

Safe Shoppers Guide

  • Includes all of the above plus arsenic, fish list and tuna calculator and teflon information.

Organic Local Farming

  • The optimum solution

Ecologic Medicine - Collection of Essays about the environment and medicine

In Harms Way - Toxic Threats to Child Development

Extoxnet 

  • Great website with practical information about many environmental toxins - easily readable

CHE Toxin and Disease Database

  • Good source of diseases and toxins - easily searchable

Its Time to Learn from Frogs - Nicholas Christoff

  • Sexual deformities in frogs and boys