Pesticides Lurk in Fruits & Veggies (Infographic)

68 percent of foods sampled contained measurable pesticides even after washing and peeling.
68 percent of foods sampled contained measurable pesticides even after washing and peeling. (Image credit: Ross Toro, LiveScience Contributor)

Recent government pesticide tests reveal the widespread presence of pesticide residues on conventionally grown, non-organic fruits and vegetables and in tap water. Results analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show that 68 percent of food samples had detectable pesticide residues after they had been washed or peeled. As a result of the data generated by scientists at U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration, EWG created its Dirty Dozen™ list of foods most commonly contaminated with pesticides, as well as, the Clean Fifteen™ list of the foods least likely to be pesticide-tainted. Notable findings from the EWG study:

  • 98 percent of conventional apples have detectable levels of pesticides.
  • Domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues.
  • 78 different pesticides were found on lettuce samples.
  • Every single nectarine USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues.
  • As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other fruit, with 64 different chemicals.
  • 13 different pesticides were measured on a single sample each of celery and strawberries.
  • Green beans and leafy greens (kale and collard greens) were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are known to affect the nervous system.
  • The produce least likely to test positive for pesticides were asparagus, avocado, cabbage, grapefruit, watermelon, eggplants, pineapples, mushrooms, onions, frozen peas and sweet potatoes.


Ross Toro
Infographics Artist
Ross Toro is a contributing infographic artist for Live Science. He specializes in explanatory graphics that deal with science topics. Ross is a former art director of the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press and United Press International. He teaches Filipino martial arts when not dabbling in cartoons and animation.