Tests Find Hormone-Disrupting Fungicides on Most Citrus Fruit Samples

The two hormone-disrupting fungicides imazalil and thiabendazole, one of which is also a likely carcinogen, were detected on nearly 90 percent of non-organic citrus fruit samples in tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group. More than half of the samples contained both fungicides.

Both chemicals disrupt the body’s hormones, or endocrine system, which regulates metabolism, growth and development, and other important functions. They can also harm the reproductive system, and California scientists classify one of them as a chemical known to cause cancer.

In January and July 2020, EWG scientists purchased and peeled 25 samples of conventionally grown grapefruit, lemons, mandarins and oranges. The edible portion of the fruit was tested for pesticide residues by an independent laboratory accredited by the state of California.

The highest levels of imazalil and thiabendazole were found on mandarins, including clementines, followed by oranges and then grapefruit. Organic samples, two oranges and one grapefruit, did not have detectable levels of fungicides. (For detailed results, see the Appendix.) The fungicides detected on citrus are typically applied after harvesting to prolong shelf life and prevent rotting.

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