Wednesday, June 27, 2012
What You Should Know
As a general rule of thumb, pesticides are classified based on the pest they control. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website, there are two categories that pest control chemicals are sorted by: chemical, and biopesticides.
First developed in the 19th century, this insecticide attacks the nervous system and in fact, for this reason, it was used during World War II as nerve agents in combat. If ingested, this chemical can be extremely poisonous.
Also a nerve-attacking pesticide, Carbamates are very similar to Organophosphates except that the effects of this particular chemical are usually reversible.
These were more widely used in previous decades, but due to the environmental impacts and health concerns, they were eliminated from the market. DDT and chlorodane were two such insecticides that were banned.
Inspired by the natural pest-control agent pyrethrin, found in chrysanthemums, the pyrethroid pesticides are a synthetic replica modified to be more stable in the environment. Certain synthetic pyrethroids can be severely toxic to the nervous system.
Biopesticides take a more natural approach to fighting pests. These are extracted from natural resources (animals, plants, minerals, and bacteria) and are not really harmful or toxic. Because of this fact, they are becoming increasingly popular. According to the EPA, there were about 195 active ingredient biopesticides registered by the end of 2001 and 780 products were created. Two common household products that include pesticidal applications are baking soda and canola oil.
Uses and Effects
Pesticides are primarily used for crops to fight against consuming pests and destructive microbes. These invaders include insects, weeds, birds, mammals, fish, roundworms, plant pathogens (fungi), and microbes. Depending on the chemical, the function can be to kill or discourage the pests. Additional uses of pesticides include agents used to thin fruit growth, reduce foliage, prevent premature falling of fruits, and substances used to slow the deterioration of fruits and vegetables during shipping and storage periods.
Harmful chemicals from pest-control sprays and fertilizers put humans at risk in two different ways: washing into rivers, streams, oceans, and in ground water, as well as being directly applied to consumable goods such as fruits and vegetables. Although our water sources typically undergo strict purification processes and contamination risk through water pipes is still inconclusively proven, the greater risk lies with the sprayed on chemicals that grace the outside of popular fruits and vegetables.
Cleanest and Meanest
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) put together for the second year in a row, a list of top ranking organic materials that are most and least contaminated with pesticides.
The list for dirtiest is as follows:
3.Sweet Bell Peppers
The cleanest were:
What is the best precaution against contaminated produce and how do you protect yourself from ingesting the potentially harmful substances? Simple: wash the skins of the produce thoroughly before eating them. For things like apples, celery, bell peppers, lettuce, grapes, and cucumbers, it is not that hard to clean the surface. Strawberries, beaches, and nectarines have softer skins though and will require gentler scrubbing.
Purchasing Organic produce does not guarantee no pesticides were used on them; in fact, organic farmers are allowed by law to use quite a variety of sprays and powders to protect or improve their crops’ growth. The only difference is that organic pesticides are naturally derived and not synthetic. Again not all pesticide chemicals are harmful, especially not the ones that stem from other organic materials. By checking the packaging and labels, you can determine exactly what chemicals or pesticides were used on the produce.