Everything You Need to Know About How Pesticides Affect Your Body

What are pesticides and how do they affect your body in a negative way

Did you know that there are more than 1 000 different pesticides? They are there to help ensure food is not damaged or destroyed by pests. Each one has different properties as well as toxicological effects on humans. 

Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans. They can have both acute and chronic health effects. The effects depend on the amount of pesticide you are exposed to as well as how you are exposed.

Today, we will look at the effects pesticides have on your body as well as organic and or natural foods that can be consumed to help reduce your pesticide intake. 

How pesticides in food affect humans 

Pesticides can affect people in different ways. Depending on which pesticide is used, will depend on the negative side effect it can have on your body. 

You can get short term effects such as:

  • Stinging eyes
  • Rashes
  • Blisters
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhoea

Some of the chronic long term effects can be: 

  • Cancer
  • Birth defects
  • Complications with your endocrine system 
  • Kidney complications 

Some people are more vulnerable to pesticides than others. Kids and infants can be more susceptible than adults. Farmworkers who use synthetic pesticides on their crops have a higher exposure level than those who only eat the foods without washing them.

If you want to learn more about the pesticide that is being used on the specific food that you are buying, go to: http://npic.orst.edu/ 

You must wash your fruit and vegetables before you ingest them to help limit the number of pesticides you are consuming. 

Pesticide residues in food

Pesticide residue is the product that is leftover on your fruit and vegetables. This is after they have been washed with bleach or sprayed to make them look shiny. Experts recommend rinsing, rubbing and scrubbing your fruits and vegetables at home to help get rid of pesticide residue. 

A study was done at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Researchers suggest soaking food in a solution of baking soda and water. The research found that it took 12-15 minutes in baking soda solutions to completely get rid of the pesticide residue that was left on the items in the study. 

Pesticide-free foods

Unless you are growing your fruit and veggies in your own garden, you will not find pesticide-free foods. With that being said, there are a few fruits and vegetables that you can find on the shelves that have very low levels of pesticide residue. Organic foods have about one-third the number of pesticides than conventional produce. For you to get the best option, learn more about the products that contain the highest amount of pesticides. Try and avoid these foods or eat foods that are certified organic. 

 Here are some of the fruits and vegetables that have the lowest number of pesticides: 

  1. Avocado
    When the USDA tested 360 avocados, they found that fewer than 1% had pesticide residue. This is due to the thick skin that covers the fruit. 
  2. Cabbage
    Did you know, there is a compound in cabbage that repels harmful insects? This is why the vegetable requires less pesticide when it is growing. It has been said that cabbage has little to no pesticide residue once washed correctly. 
  3. Papaya
    The research found that around 80% of papayas tested had no detectable pesticide residues. The flesh was tested, not the skin and seeds. The skin helps shield the flesh from pesticides. 
  4. Asparagus
    90% or so of the asparagus that was examined had no detectable pesticides. They tested the edible parts of the asparagus after it was rinsed under tap water for about 15-20 seconds. 

There are other fruit and vegetables that are on that list. As you can see, the thicker the skin of the fruit or vegetable, the smaller the risk of ingesting pesticides. We are now going to have a look at organic foods and the types of pesticides that they use. 

Are there pesticides in organic foods?

The unfortunate answer to the question is yes. There are pesticides in organic food but that does not mean you need to be scared away from organic produce. 

The USDA manages a list of approved pesticides that are allowed to be used on organic produce. These pesticides are natural or non-synthetic. These substances have been produced or extracted from natural sources such as plants or other living organisms. Turns out, the only chemical changes that happen come from naturally occurring processes such as enzymatic digestion or composting. 

Doctor Rose has said: “In general, pesticides approved for organic production are lower in toxicity than conventional pesticides, and most are derived from naturally occurring substances.”

A 2014 paper looked at 343 studies that found that organic produce had four times less pesticide residue than conventional produce. 

Other research suggests that an organic diet appears to decrease the pesticide levels in our urine as well. 


Pesticides have been around for a very long time and it is said that they are not going to go away. They are needed in the agricultural industry but WHO says that they aim to make sure all pesticides pass regulations to ensure the health and safety of people. 


  • Wash your fruit and veg thoroughly before you consume them
  • Eat fruit and veg that contain a hard skin/shell to reduce your exposure
  • Organic foods use pesticides that pass the regulations set out by the board and they are made from natural ingredients. 

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