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The Dirty Dozen: Pestides and what you can do about them

This may sound like I'm promoting a new version of the classic World War II movie, when actually, I'm referring to a list provided by Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN) who are a charity focusing on tackling the problems caused by pesticides. You can learn more about them here.

The Dirty Dozen refers to PAN UK's analysis of three years’ worth of data that provides consumers with information of UK produce that is the most likely to contain the highest levels of pesticide residues. These include:

  • Grapefruit

  • Soft citrus, such as mandarins

  • Strawberries

  • Oranges

  • Dried grapes, such as raisins

  • Herbs

  • Pre-packed salads

  • Grapes

  • Lemons

  • Pears

  • Peaches and nectarines

  • Spinach

PAN UK and another charity, The Soil Association, have written a report that presents a growing body of evidence that pesticides can become more harmful when combined - hence having a "cocktail effect" on the body. Several pieces of research conducted on human cells and tissues have highlighted that the combined actions of chemical mixtures can lead to disruption of the endocrine system (made up of glands that make hormones - the body's chemical messengers) and the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells.

So what can you do to help yourself and the family?

  1. You can sign up for the Dirty Dozen list directly with PAN UK here to stay informed and up to date.

  2. Washing will remove some residue on the skin of a product, but many modern pesticides are "systemic", meaning that they are absorbed and distributed throughout the plant's tissues. Due to this, either buy organic versions of the fruit and vegetables on list if you can afford to, or choose to buy produce that hasn't been listed.

  3. Ask you local councillor to take the Pesticide-Free Towns pledge.


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