The Reason Apples Earned #1 for Dirtiest Produce: 47 Pesticides & Carcinogens

By Yelena Sukhoterina 

For years apples rated as number one produce when it comes to the amount of pesticides found on them (only to be surpassed by strawberries this year).


But which pesticides are found on apples, and how bad are they really? The list is not pretty.

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) was created to spread awareness about the dangers of pesticide and reduce their use. On one of the websites,, gives consumers the ability to look up a produce to see the list of pesticide residues found on it, or by pesticide to see which food items is it found in.

Apples are listed with 47 different pesticides: out of which there are 6 known or probable carcinogens, 16 suspected hormone disruptors, 5 neurotoxins, 6 developmental toxins, and 11 honeybee toxins.

Here is the breakdown of what you’ll find in a “conventional” apple from the orchard:

Known or probable carcinogens: According to American Cancer Association, carcinogens are chemicals that are known to cause cancer. A small percent of apples were found containing Carbaryl,o-Phenylphenol, Imazalil, and Pronamide – all known carcinogens. And 81% of apples were found with a probable carcinogen called Thiabendazole.

Suspected hormone disruptors: 75.2% of apples contained Pyrimethanil, a suspected hormone disruptor – a chemical that may cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects. Be warned that it is even more hazardous for pregnant women and their developing baby.

Neurotoxins: A smaller but a still significant percent of apples were found with neurotoxins, chemicals that are destructive for the nervous system and may lead to memory problems, epilepsy, and dementia. They are especially dangerous for young children, when the brain is not yet fully developed. The neurotoxin Phosmet was found in 9.6% of apples, and Azinphos methyl in 9.2%.

Developmental or reproductive toxins: These are substances which are hazardous for the reproductive system and fetal development. They are partly responsible for some children having psychological and behavioral issues, as well as cognitive problems. Thiabendazole found in 81% of apples is a developmental toxin as well as a carcinogen. Other reproductive toxins include Myclobutanil found in 8.1% of apples, and Diazinon found in 6.5%.

Honeybee toxins: These toxins are toxic to the falling honeybee population. Apples were found with 11 different honeybee toxins ranging from high to slight toxicity. 75.2% of apples contained Pyrimethanil, which is slightly toxic, 28.7% had Acetamiprid – moderately toxic, and 20.2% Imidacloprid – highly toxic.

This Is Why It Is Vital to Buy Organic

The amount of pesticides found on organic apples is monumentally lower than on conventional apples. For example, there is only 0.3 micro grams of probable carcinogen Thiabendazole on domestic organic apples, compared to 390.0 micro grams on conventional domestic ones.

Thiabendazole apples

Conventional vs. Organic Source:

Organic apples tested contained zero known carcinogens, and virtually no neurotoxins. Very few organic apples contained up to 0.3 micro grams of Diazinon. It is also the only reproductive toxin found on organic apples.

Organic apples were found with only one out of 16 hormone disruptors – under 1.6 micro grams of Pyrimethanil.

Organic apples are also much better for the bee population according to lab results. Just a small amount of three out of 11 honeybee toxins was found on domestic organic apples: 0.2 micro grams of Spinosad, 0.3 micro grams Diazinon, and 1.6 micrograms Pyrimethanil.

If buying organic is not possible, it is recommended to wash as much of pesticide residues away as possible. Just water will probably not suffice, but a produce washing liquid either store-bought or homemade will definitely help. A simple apple cider vinegar based wash with filtered water is one of the easiest ways to clean your produce.

The full list of pesticides on apples, amounts found, and comparison with organic apples, can be found on


Other works by Yelena Sukhoterina

Original article 

TLB recommends other informative articles at AltHealthWorks


1 Comment on The Reason Apples Earned #1 for Dirtiest Produce: 47 Pesticides & Carcinogens

  1. just wondering about the wisdom of washing produce with apple cider vinegar, given the information here. Looks like another country wisdom tool we may have to replace….

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