According to a recent peer-reviewed study published in the scientific journal Environmental Research 1, switching to an organic diet reduces the level of pesticides in one’s body in as little as six days. Although previous studies have shown decreased levels of organophosphates (any insecticides containing phosphorus) in the human body after switching to an organic diet, this study goes further by measuring different insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
The study found significant reduction of the levels of thirteen different pesticides in the bodies of the participants after just six days of eating an organic diet. These include organophosphates, neonicotinoids, pyrethoids, and 2,4-D which together make up the majority of pesticides used in the US.
The study looked at sixteen people comprising 4 families (located in different areas of the US and with different racial backgrounds). The participant’s urine was tested after six days on a conventional diet, and again six days after they switched to an all-organic diet. The drop in the levels of residual pesticides in their bodies was dramatic:
As pesticides are designed to be poisonous, it should come as no surprise that research has shown that exposure to all of these substances can be detrimental to human health. Organophosphates have been shown to be harmful to children’s developing brains – so much so that some scientists call for a full ban 2. Pyrethoids have been linked to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease among other issues 3. Neonicotinoids are associated with endocrine disruption and behavioral and attention changes 4 not to mention that they a main driver of massive pollinator loss 5. 2, 4-D (one of the 2 ingredients in Agent Orange) has been associated with endocrine disruption, thyroid disorders, increased risk of Parkinson’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, developmental and reproductive toxicity and damage to the liver, immune system and semen quality6,7
The results are clear. Making the change from conventional food to organic is an easy and effective way to rapidly reduce the amount of pesticides in your body. If making a full-scale dietary change seems daunting, start with the “dirty dozen” list – these are the produce items with the highest level of pesticide loads – and go from there. By switching to an organic diet you are not only reducing the level of pesticides in your own system, you’re also voting with your dollar for a food system that is better for the both environment and for the people working in that system. That is a food system that we at SPUD.ca are proud to support – something we couldn’t do without your help.
1. Hyland, C., Bradman, A., Gerona, R., Patton, S., Zakharevich, I., Gunier, R.B., and Klein, K. 2019. Organic diet intervention significantly reduces urinary pesticide levels in U.S. children and adults. Environmental Research, 171, pp. 568-575.
2. Hertz-Picciotto, I., Sass, J. B., Engel, S., Bennett, D. H., Bradman, A., Eskenazi, B. and Whyatt, R. 2018. Organophosphate exposures during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment: Recommendations for essential policy reforms. PLoS medicine, 15(10), e1002671.
3. Beyond Pesticides. Pesticides Trigger Parkinson’s Disease. Online. https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/gateway/health%20effects/parkinson%27s%20cited.pdf
4. Hoshi, N., Hirano, T., Omotehara, T., Tokumoto, J., Umemura, Y., Mantani, Y., Tanida, T., Warita, K., Tabuchi,Y., Yokoyama, T. and Kitagawa, H., 2014. Insight into the mechanism of reproductive dysfunction caused by neonicotinoid pesticides. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 37(9), pp.1439-1443.
5. Bijleveld van Lexmond, Maarten et al. 2015. Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. 2(1).
6. Beyond Pesticides. Pesticides that Disrupt Endocrine System Still Unregulated by EPA. Online. https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/gateway/health%20effects/endocrine%20cited.pdf
7. Beyond Pesticides. Chemical Watch Factsheet: 2,4-D. Online. https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/pesticides/factsheets/2-4-D.pdf