Apples, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, peaches, pears, plums, spinach, strawberries, table grapes and tomatoes found at produce markets in the South African province of Gauteng have all tested positive for endocrine-disruptive chemicals.
The mixture of chemicals used in pesticides have properties that allow them to act like a hormone (oestrogen) in the body. It is also possible that this can affect children when they reach adulthood, as well as having potential carcinogenic effects when there is long-term exposure.
A study by researchers from the University of Pretoria (UP) found a number of different pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables from fresh produce markets in Johannesburg and Tshwane. But it is when these pesticides are combined that they could pose serious health risks.
The pesticide concentrations ranged between 0.01 and 0.68 mg/kg and included endosulfan, procymidone, chlorpyrifos and iprodione, which when combined form endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
Businessinsider.co.za reports that the study tested 27 fruit and 26 vegetable samples and found 17 samples which contained pesticides. Fourteen tested positive for estrogenic activity (when the body mistakes these endocrine disrupting chemicals for a female hormone). It was found on samples of apples, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, peaches, pears, plums, spinach, strawberries, table grapes and tomatoes.
EDCs are chemicals made outside of the body that can block, mimic or otherwise disrupt normal hormone signals. This can result in misinformation that leads to diseases and poor health conditions. Exposure to EDCs -even at very low levels- during certain times of life can have substantial and sometimes permanent impacts on health.