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Reducing Your Exposure to Pesticides

Although some exposure to pesticides is difficult to avoid, you can significantly reduce pesticides in your diet and your surroundings with a few simple steps.

Buy organic or sustainably produced food. Organic diets quickly and significantly lower children’s pesticide exposure levels. Talk to farmers at the market about methods; smaller growers may use fewer pesticides, but may not have obtained organic certification.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

If your produce isn’t organic, eating a mix of food can minimize risk of ingesting too much of any one pesticide.

Wash your produce.

Running water and a soft scrub brush will remove pesticide residues, dirt and bacteria. Commercial produce washes are only slightly more effective than running water.

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Know the risk.

Foods likely to contain high levels of pesticide residues include peaches, apples, sweet bell pepper, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, pears, spinach and potatoes. Buy these organic when possible.

Grow your own fruits and vegetables.

If you grow your own vegetables in a garden, community plot or windowsill container, you’ll know they don’t have pesticide residue!

Use safer repellents.

Soybean oil-based products such as Bite Blocker are effective and safer insect repellents. Mesh clothing is also effective. If you must use repellent with the chemical DEET, choose a 10% concentration, limit application to once per day, and avoid hands and mouth. Avoid products that mix DEET with sunscreen.

Avoid using weed-and-feed

or other lawn and garden chemicals. Weed killers and insecticides should be used only as a last resort. Spot-treatments are better than broad applications. Keep humans and pets away from application areas for at least 24 hours or longer if directed. Storing pesticides can lead to exposure; dispose of leftover pesticides at a recycling site. Find a site near you at earth911.org.

Advocate

for pesticide reduction in your neighborhood and at work. Integrated Pest Management works for schools, parks, and buildings. Ask yours if they have a good plan.

Choose an Eco-Healthy Child Care.

Eco-Healthy child cares endorsed by the Oregon Environmental Council have committed to reducing potentially harmful toxics in their facilities. See a list of endorsed child cares.

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