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(CBS Local) — Kale, that popular green of the health-conscious consumer, has joined the list of 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residues, according to the Environmental Working Group.
For the third straight year, strawberries top the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list. Spinach and kale finished in second and third place, respectively. Other “dirty” foods include nectarines, apples, and grapes.
The analysis found 92 percent of conventionally grown kale samples had residue from at least two or more pesticides. Some samples contained as many as 18 different pesticides. The most common pesticide detected was Dacthal, also known as DCPA, which was classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1995 as a possible human carcinogen and banned in the European Union in 2009.
“We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal,” Alexis Temkin, an EWG toxicologist, said in a statement.
The report is based on more than 40,900 fruit and vegetable samples tested by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It found nearly 70% of “conventionally grown produce” has pesticides.
Researchers say consuming pesticides have been linked to health issues like cancer and fertility concerns.
Avocados, sweet corn and pineapples top the EWG’s “Clean Fifteen” list.
The nonprofit-nonpartisan environmental organization has annually ranked pesticide contamination in popular fruits and vegetables since 2004. It urges consumers to buy and eat organic produce, especially fruits and vegetables found on the “Dirty Dozen” list.
But others view the report with skepticism.
The Alliance for Food and Farming, a non-profit that represents organic and non-organic growers, said the “Dirty Dozen” list is “unsupportable.” It points to FDA and USDA data which shows “more than 99% of the produce sampled had residues far below Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety levels, if present at all.”