The New Dirty Dozen: See Which Produce Has the Most Pesticides

If you're a fan of blueberries, you're going to want to take note.

Buying all organic can be expensive. But buying all conventionally grown produce could expose you to a variety of pesticides linked to health and environmental issues, including some that have been already banned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

That's why every year, the Environmental Working Group releases two lists: The Dirty Dozen, produce that the United States Department of Agriculture found contaminated with the most pesticides, and The Clean 15, fruits and vegetables that have the least amount of pesticide contamination.


Karen Schuld/Getty Images

This year, blueberries and green beans were added to the Dirty Dozen, while carrots moved into the Clean 15.

To minimize your exposure to pesticides, try to switch to organic for the produce listed in the Dirty Dozen, and go ahead and opt for the conventionally grown fruits and vegetables in the Clean 15. Here's the list—and the scoop on what's on your fruits and veggies—so you can make educated shopping choices.

The Dirty Dozen Produce

In testing, these fruits and vegetables had 210 different pesticides and insecticides found on them—including pesticides banned by the Environmental Protection Agency. Because many of these fruits and vegetables have thin, edible skins (or no skins at all), it can be hard to get rid of any pesticide residue on them, even with thorough washing.

1. Strawberries

strawberries. Getty

Nearly all non-organic strawberries were contaminated with pesticides (99 percent), and they were the produce most likely to stay contaminated, even after they were washed in the field and at home.

2. Spinach

Baby Spinach
Baby Spinach. © Rob Lawson / Getty Images

Spinach is near the top of the Dirty Dozen produce list, as it contains more pesticide residue by weight than any other fruits and vegetables, with an average of seven different pesticides in each sample.

3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens

Kale. Joff Lee/Getty Images

Kale is a favorite superfood, but about 60 percent of the conventionally grown kale and other greens has residue of DCPA, a pesticide that is considered a possible human carcinogen that's been banned in Europe.

4. Peaches

Whole and Cut White Peaches
White Peaches. Photo © Maximilian Stock Ltd./Getty Images

In the Department of Agriculture's recent testing, 56 different pesticides were found on conventionally grown peaches. One hormone-disrupting fungicide, fludioxonil, was found on nearly 90 percent of the samples.

5. Pears

Williams Pears
Bartlett Pears. Franck Bichon/Getty Images

The number of different pesticides on pears have increased significantly since the last round of testing in 2016. Nearly two-thirds of all pear samples had residues of five or more pesticides—compared to 48 percent in 2016.

6. Nectarines

Fresh, Whole Nectarines
Nectarines. Photo © Westend61/Getty Images

More than half of the samples of nectarines were contaminated with formetanate hydrochloride, a neurotoxin, and 43 percent featured fludioxonil, a hormone-disrupting fungicide that is also a potential bee toxin.

7. Apples

Rave apple

Getty Images/olga_d

A controversial chemical, diphenylamine, is the reason conventionally grown apples are on the Dirty Dozen produce list. Diphenylamine is sprayed on harvested apples to keep their skins from getting brown or black patches when they're in storage. The chemical may potentially break down to nitrosamines, which has been linked to an increased risk of stomach and esophageal cancer.

8. Grapes

green grape

Getty Images/karimitsu

Conventionally grown grapes have been found to have 56 different pesticide residues on them, including eight probable carcinogens, 17 suspected hormone disruptors, and 10 neurotoxins, according to What's on My Food.

9. Bell and hot peppers

Different hot chili peppers
Westend61 / Getty Images

More than 50 different pesticides were found on bell pepper samples, including 21 suspected hormone disrupters, 10 neurotoxins, and three probable carcinogens.

10. Cherries

Fresh Sweet Cherries
Lapins Cherries. Nenov / Getty Images

Samples of conventionally grown cherries tested had 42 different pesticide residues, including 20 suspected hormone disrupters, and five probable carcinogens.

11. Blueberries


Karen Schuld/Getty Images

Blueberries were added back to the list this year, after a brief hiatus. That's because more than 90 percent of the 765 non-organic blueberry samples tested had traces of pesticides—an increase of 9 percent from 2014—and nearly 80 percent of samples were contaminated with two or more pesticides.

12. Green Beans

Green Beans
Green Beans in a Red Bowl. Carrie Anne Castillo/Moment/Getty Images

Nearly 90 percent of the green beans tested had pesticides—including acephate, an insecticide that was banned in 2011. (One sample had levels 500 times greater than the EPA's limit!)

The Clean 15 Fruits and Vegetables

If you're looking to save money, these 15 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables had the fewest pesticides on them, according to the Environmental Working Group. (In fact, nearly two-thirds of the foods didn't have a trace of pesticides!) In many cases, these fruits and veggies benefited from having a tough (and inedible) outer skin that protected it from any pesticides. Just remember to still wash the skin before you cut into it, so you don't transfer any chemicals into the fruit or vegetable itself.

If you're looking to reduce your exposure to pesticides, you can still save money by buying conventionally grown avocados, onions, and more.

1. Avocados

Organic avocado with seed, avocado halves and whole fruits on blue background. Top view. Pop art design, creative summer food concept. Green avocadoes pattern in minimal flat lay style
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Avocados score the tops in this category, as only 1 percent of samples had a pesticide on it—imiprothrin, which doesn't have any suspected health or environmental effects, according to What's on My Food.

2. Sweet Corn

Corn on the Cob
Bill Varie/Getty Images

Conventionally grown sweet corn was also highly unlikely to be contaminated with pesticides. Only three pesticide residues were found, and they impacted around 1 percent of all samples.

3. Pineapple


BookyBuggy/Getty Images

Conventionally grown pineapple samples were found to contain six different pesticides, but they were found in less than 5 percent of samples tested.

4. Onions

Onions. Getty - PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / PhotoAlto/Laurence Mouton

None of the top six "Clean 15" produce products—including onions—tested positive for more than three pesticides.

5. Papaya

Halved papayas
Papayas cut in half. Joff Lee/Getty Images

The most common pesticide found on papaya, boscalid, was rated a possible carcinogen—and was only found on 8 percent of samples.

6. Sweet Peas (Frozen)

English Peas
English Peas. James Galpin/Moment/Getty Images

There were a dozen different pesticides found on the samples of frozen peas, but the most common, dimethoate, was only found on 12 percent of the samples.

7. Asparagus

Bundle of Asparagus
Bundle of Asparagus. Getty Images / Photolibrary / Maximilian Stock Ltd.

Conventionally grown asparagus had nine different pesticide residues. Its most common one, methomyl, was found on 4.4 percent of samples, and is a neurotoxin, suspected hormone disruptor, and a bee toxin.

8. Honeydew Melon

Picture of three honeydew
Ed Young/Passage/Getty Images.

Honeydew melon has moved up the list since the 2020 one, from number 14 to the eighth spot.

9. Kiwi

Kiwis contra el estreñimiento
Los kiwis tienen más vitamina C que las naranjas y previenen el estreñimiento. SusanadelCampoPhoto / Getty Images

A nutrient-packed powerhouse and bona fide superfood, kiwi has also moved up on the Clean 15, to the ninth spot this year.

10. Cabbage

Cabbage Head

Isabelle Rozenbaum/Getty Images

A vast majority of the cabbage had little to no pesticide residue. The most common chemical, imidacloprid, is a bee toxin and was found on less than 10 percent of samples.

11. Mushrooms

Fresh Mushrooms
Mix of Mushrooms. James Tse/Getty Images

The most common type of pesticide found on mushrooms, thiabendazole, was found on about half of the samples tested.

12. Mangoes


ALEAIMAGE/Getty Images

Thiabendazole was also the most common pesticide used on mangoes, found on 16 percent of samples, with few samples showing other pesticides.

13. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato

Westend61/Getty Images

The most common pesticide residue on sweet potatoes, dicloran, was found on nearly half of samples, and is a potential carcinogen.

14. Watermelon

Watermelon Slices
Watermelon is an ideal food for people with IBD -- just don't eat the seeds!. Image © Eduardo Barrera / Moment / Getty Images

The most common pesticides found on watermelon are bee toxins, including thiamethoxam and imidacloprid, which were each found on 11 percent of the samples tested.

15. Carrots

Carrots. Jacqueline Veissid/Getty Images

Carrots are new to the Clean 15 list this year, knocking cantaloupe off the list.

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