Pesticides are used widely throughout the world.  They are chemicals that are dangerous to human health and are the leading cause of poisoning in Canada. Pesticides can also have chronic health effects as a direct result of acute poisonings but also from chronic exposure.

Household insecticides, caled organophosphate have been linked in many studies to neurological damage in humans. One pesticide called Chlorpyrifos was recently banned by the EPA showing that children were routinely exposed to unsafe levels.  Evidence shows that pesticides play a role in human cancers and studies have linked exposure to insecticides in the home to development of brain cancer and leukemia in children.  Research has also found a link between fertility issues and miscarriage rates and chronic exposure to pesticides.

Children are more vulnerable and more widely exposed to pesticides.  In Canada, little has been done to update the regulation of pesticides, despite the evidence harm.  A study done by the Ontario College of Family Physicians and the Canadian Environmental Law Association reviewed the evidence and made recommendations about standard setting. The study also provides an excellent summary of the scientific and medical evidence about pesticides and their human health effects.

The dirty dozen is a list of the foods with the most pesticides residues:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

The Clean 15 are the foods with the least pesticide residues:

  • onions
  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onions

These food lists are available at the Environemental Working Group