A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives is among the first to predict a person’s pesticide exposure based on information about their usual diet.

The study was led by Cynthia Curl, an assistant professor in Boise State University’s School of Allied Health Sciences.

Curl and her colleagues analysed the dietary exposure of nearly 4,500 people from six US cities to organophosphates (OPs), the most common insecticides used on conventionally grown produce in the United States. The study participants were from many ethnic backgrounds.

OP pesticides are linked to a number of detrimental health effects, particularly among agricultural workers who are regularly exposed to the chemicals.

Results showed that among individuals eating similar amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who reported eating organic produce had significantly lower OP pesticide exposures than those consuming conventionally grown produce. In addition, consuming those conventionally grown foods typically treated with more of these pesticides during production, including apples, nectarines and peaches, was associated with significantly higher levels of exposure.

“For most Americans, diet is the primary source of OP pesticide exposure,” said Curl “The study suggests that by eating organically grown versions of those foods highest in pesticide residues, we can make a measurable difference in the levels of pesticides in our bodies.”

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