Summer is the perfect time for fresh fruits and veggies, but unfortunately some could be contaminated by potentially toxic chemicals: pesticides. Pesticides kill pests, yes, but ever stop to think what else they may be doing? Several studies out by The Environmental Working Group (EWG), The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have found serious risk factors for those with pesticide exposure.
Organophosphates as Chemicals of Mass Destruction!
Organophosphates are neurotoxins, a group of pesticides first developed in the early 19th century. Later the German military produced them during WWII for potential use as chemical weapons. Fortunately they were never used for that purpose. Organophosphates kill insects by disrupting their brains and nervous systems, but they can do the same in animals and humans. These chemicals work by hindering the work of a key enzyme in the nervous system. The nerves and muscles become over-stimulated resulting in symptoms like weakness and muscle paralysis. Thus the phrase nerve gas!
Pesticides are responsible for about one of out of every sixteen call to poison control centers.
Statistics on pesticide poisonings are hard to by because the EPA does not track them. However, California does keep records. From 2000-2008 California had over 7,600 reported pesticide poisoning cases resulting in almost 200 hospitalizations. About half of these cases were from agricultural uses and the other half from non-agricultural areas such as homes, gardens, school yards, and gold courses!
Cancer, Infertility, Brain Tumors, and more
Organophosphate pesticides account for 38 percent of all pesticide use in the world, according to the EWG. Animal and human studies on organophosphate pesticides have indicated a correlation to a number of health problems. The most serious are cancer, fertility problems, brain tumors, childhood leukemia, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, birth defects and nervous system damage. Those especially at risk are children, whose bodies and brains are still developing, as well as pregnant women, whose unborn children are extremely susceptible. Long term neurological problems such as shortened attention span (ADD) and reduced coordination have been reported in adults exposed to organophosphate pesticides over long periods.
A new study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that those who had been exposed to even low levels of pesticides were found to be 1.13 times as likely to have Parkinson’s disease as those with no exposure at all!
By avoiding the most contaminated produce we can reduce our risk to pesticide poisoning.
Simply washing with water and peeling produce is not enough to protect us from pesticides. It will reduce the levels somewhat, but it will not eliminate them. Plus, we don’t want to peel some produce like apples and potatoes because the skins contain a lot of the nutrients and antioxidants. Buy certified organic fruits and vegetables when possible. Be sure to wash all commercially grown produce thoroughly with a diluted soap solution. The EWG believes we can reduce our exposure to as much as 90% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and veggies.
See the chart below for the produce with the most and least pesticide contamination.
Please call Radiance for an appointment with Gail Clayton, our functional medicine provider.
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