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Washing Pesticides Off Apples Requires More Than Water, New Study Finds


Ever wonder how to wash apples? Like, really wash them clean? You’re certainly not alone. If we’re being honest, most of us just give them a quick shower under the sink faucet before sinking our teeth into our fresh fruit of choice. But according to a new study, there may be a more effective way to wash apples — by using an added ingredient.

Researchers at University of Massachusetts, Amherst are suggesting soaking apples in a solution of water and baking soda after comparing that method with two others. In the study, the researchers sprayed organic Gala apples with two common EPA-approved pesticides and let the fruit sit for a full 24 hours before trying out the different washing styles — plain water, a bleach solution often used by US fruit purveyors, and the water-baking soda solution. After two minutes, the baking soda and water mixture had removed more of the pesticides than the other two washing methods.

Is it necessary to wash apples?

Unless you buy organic apples all the time, your precious produce has likely been sprayed with synthetic pesticides. (Some organic apples may be sprayed with organic pesticides.) Though the EPA requires apples to be washed with a bleach solution and rinsed before being sold to people, the lead study author, Lili He, PhD, says that this requirement is to remove dirt and kill microbes.

“It’s not intended to wash away pesticides,” Dr. He told Consumer Reports.

It’s worthwhile to note that even a thorough wash cannot guarantee that all of the pesticides will be removed. Certainly, low levels can still sink into the fruit, even if you let it sit for 15 minutes in the mixture like the researchers did (and who wants to wait that long, anyway?). But if you want to limit your personal exposure to synthetic pesticides in your own home, this new method of apple washing might be one to consider. If you want to avoid the synthetic pesticides on apples altogether, it’s best to only stick to organic apples when you buy.

So… how do you like them apples now?

h/t Quartz

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