Washing apples in water with a dash of baking soda is the most effective way to remove pesticide residue, new research shows.
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The mix outperformed Clorox-spiked water for getting rid of the chemicals, and also worked better than plain water, Dr. Lili He of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and her colleagues found. They reported their findings October 25 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Pesticides are widely used in agriculture to kill bugs, fungi, and other produce-plaguing pests. They can hurt humans, too, but most of us are exposed to amounts so tiny that they don’t pose a risk, according to the EPA.
Many people try to limit their exposure to pesticides by washing produce, but whether or not this does anything to remove them has not been studied, Dr. He and her team note. They coated apples with thiabendazole, a fungicide, or phosmet, which is used to kill a variety of pests, and washed them with water or water mixed with bleach or baking soda. The researchers used Gala apples because they are widely consumed and also likely to contain a wide variety of pesticides.