Pesticide Residues In
Fruit And Vegetables
By Margot Higgins
ENN News - Environmental News Network

Photographed with an optical microscope, chlordane, introduced in 1945, is widely used to control termites and soil-borne insects. Another reason to watch what you eat has re-emerged. Banned by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1988, the pesticide chlordane is showing up in fresh vegetable produce, according to a study published in the May 15 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Chlordane was used extensively for 40 years to combat ticks and as an insecticide in agriculture. The hazardous chemical has an alarming capacity to remain in the environment years after it is introduced and is turning up in crops across the country.
In the study, all 12 of the vegetables grown in soil with weathered chlordane absorbed some of the compound, said Mary Jane Incorvia Mattina, head of the of the department of analytical chemistry at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Most susceptible to high concentrations of the pesticide were root vegetables including carrots, beets and potatoes. Smaller amounts were found in the edible portions of beans and eggplant. Tomatoes, peppers and corn absorbed chlordane at their roots, but the chemical not transfer to the parts of the vegetables usually consumed by humans.
Carrots are among the root vegetables susceptible to high concentrations of chlordane. Even certified organic vegetables contain chlordane, Mattina points out, since the pesticide can linger in the environment for nearly 40 years after it is applied.
High levels of chlordane can cause damage to the nervous system and liver. The pesticide is considered a carcinogen by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although an individual would have to eat a million carrots in a lifetime to build up a dangerous level of chlordane, Mattina strongly recommends washing produce before it is consumed.
Peeling vegetables can also reduce their chlordane content, she added, but only "deep plowing" to reduce the amount of chlordane in the soil can prevent absorption.
Chlordane is still used extensively in Asia, but Mattina believes ongoing international efforts will lead to a permanent ban of the pesticide throughout the world.
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