The 2021 'Dirty Dozen' list of pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables

Published 12:16 AM ET, Wed March 17, 2021
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Strawberries topped the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list in 2021 for the sixth year in a row. The most recent report states they are the fresh produce most likely to remain contaminated with pesticide residues, even after being washed. Testing found 90% of strawberries had at least one pesticide, while 30% had residues of 10 or more pesticides. SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
Conventionally grown spinach, in the second spot again this year, has more pesticide residues by weight than all other produce tested, "with three-fourths of samples tested contaminated with a neurotoxic bug killer banned from use on food crops in Europe," EWG said. John Moore/Getty Images
Kale was joined in third place by collard and mustard greens, which most commonly tested positive for DCPA, which the US Environmental Protection Agency classified as a possible carcinogen in 1995. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Nectarines are fourth on the list this year. More than 90% of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and leafy greens tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides. Shutterstock
Apples are fifth this year, the EWG said. Apples are typically treated with diphenylamine, a chemical treatment used to prevent brown or black patches. Diphenylamine is banned in Europe due to a link to stomach and esophageal cancers. Andrew Wong/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Grapes came in sixth on the list. Since 2004, EWG has used government testing data to report on pesticide levels. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Cherries are eighth on the list this year. The Pesticide Data Program reports issued by the US Department of Agriculture indicated that when pesticide residues are found on foods, they are nearly always at levels below the human tolerance limits set by the agency. Shutterstock
Peaches are typically on the Dirty Dozen list. The list is based off more than 40,000 fruit and vegetable samples tested by the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture. Shutterstock
Pears rank ninth on the list. The recommendations from EWG are to buy and eat organic produce if possible, especially the fruits and vegetables found on the Dirty Dozen list. shutterstoc
Bell and hot peppers were tested for the first time since 2011-2012, and had more types of pesticides than any other produce. Peppers contained 115 pesticides in total and 21 more pesticides than the crops with the second highest amount -- kale, collard and mustard greens. Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images
Celery ranks 11th on the Dirty Dozen list. Experts agree that even with the growing concern for the effects of pesticides, fruits and vegetables are an important part of a daily diet. Shutterstock
Tomatoes came in last on the list. Research on the effects of pesticides on organisms is ongoing, and there is not a complete understanding of whether there is a particular amount of pesticides considered to be safe. Joern Pollex/Getty Images/File
In 2021, EWG did some testing of its own, targeting citrus fruits. A fungicide linked to cancer and hormone disruption was detected on nearly 90% of all the oranges, mandarins, grapefruit and lemons tested by an independent laboratory commissioned by EWG. Shutterstock