Kale Now One of the Top 3 Vegetables Most Contaminated With Cancer-Linked Pesticides

kale is contaminated by cancer causing chemicals

PHOTO: pixabay



Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a report on the most pesticide-contaminated vegetables and fruits on the market. The list is called The Dirty Dozen, and consists of produce that is important to buy organic, or use a special wash to remove the pesticides.

The list changes slightly every year, and in 2021, there is bad news for kale lovers. As healthy as kale usually is, non-organic kale became number 3 on the Dirty Dozen list (the second vegetable after spinach), because over 50 percent of it tested positive for cancer-causing pesticides.

The Problem With Kale

The EWG’s analysis found residues of DCPA or Dacthal on kale, which the EPA labeled as a possible carcinogen back in 1995. In 2005, many manufacturers stopped using it on crops of artichokes, beans, and cucumbers, due to worries of drinking water contamination.

The European Union banned using Dacthal on all crops in 2009.

However, in the U.S., this cancer-causing pesticide is still used on not only kale, but also broccoli, sweet potatoes, eggplant, and turnips, according to the EGW kale report.

In 2016, roughly 500,000 pounds of Dacthal was used on crops mainly in California and Washington state. However, only in California does all pesticide use have to be reported, so the number is likely much higher.

This pesticide is concerning not only because of its residues on kale and other produce, but it can contaminate drinking water, and travel through air to communities near the farms.

Besides it being a possible carcinogen, it is a suspected endocrine disruptor, as well as harmful for thyroid function.

Additionally, Dacthal tested positive for contamination of two other cancer-causing chemicals: TCDD and hexachlorobenzene.

USDA data from 2017 showed that over 90 percent of kale is contaminated with at least two pesticide residues.

These include insecticides bifenthrin and cypermethrin, and pesticide permethrin. The last one can be detected in human urine, and is linked to adverse neurological events and ADHD in children.

While kale remains a health food, it is necessary to buy it from organic sources. The rest of the produce from the Dirty Dozen should be bought organically as well.


The Dirty Dozen 2021

The full list of the latest Dirty Dozen (the first 12 items are most commonly discussed) is as follows:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes
  13. Potatoes
  14. Cherry tomatoes
  15. Lettuce
  16. Blueberries
  17. Cucumbers
  18. Plums
  19. Green beans
  20. Tangerines
  21. Grapefruit
  22. Raspberries
  23. Snap peas
  24. Oranges
  25. Carrots

See the full 2021 list here.


Washing The Produce To Remove Pesticides

If you cannot find these organically but choose to use them, do use a produce wash that will remove some pesticide residues from your fruits and vegetables.

Certified Organic Veggie Wash, for example, is manufactured from sunflower oil, apple cider vinegar, orange and lemon oils, and coconut oil (plus potassium hydroxide used to turn oil into soap, and citric acid) to cut through the wax and remove chemicals from pesticides.

To use it on firm produces like potatoes and apples, all you have to do is spray the veggie wash. To wash soft produce and leafy greens, you mix 2 oz.  of the veggie wash with a large bowl of water and soak the produce for 30 seconds. Rinse everything after using the veggies wash for all produce.

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About Nick Meyer

Nick Meyer is a journalist who's been published in the Detroit Free Press, Dallas Morning News and several other outlets. He founded AltHealthWORKS in 2012 to showcase extraordinary stories of healing and the power of organic living, stories the mainstream media always seemed to miss. Check out Nick's Amazon best-seller 'Dirt Cheap Organic: 101 Tips For Going Organic on a Budget' by clicking here, as well as its sequel Dirt Cheap Weight Loss.