Back from the past

Pesticides that have for decades been out of use are now being detected in fresh products

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

The hazardous pesticide, chlordane -- first introduced more than five decades ago and now banned -- has resurfaced in vegetables. A study conducted by the American Chemical Society (ACS) has revealed the presence of chlordane in 12 vegetables. Although present in small quantities, the compound accumulates in the human body and can lead to digestive and nervous system disorders.

Of the 12 vegetables on which the study was conducted, maximum absorbed chlordane was found in the edible portions of carrots, potatoes, beets, spinach, lettuce, dandelion and zucchini. Comparatively, the chemical was present in lesser concentrations in beans and eggplant.

Chlordane, a synthetic pesticide made up of 147 different components, was once intensively used in the agricultural sector and gardens throughout the US and Mexico. India too made extensive used of this chemical which has now been banned. According to Mary Jane Incorvia Mattina, lead researcher of this latest discovery, chlordane has a half-life of 22 years in the soil. She says the consumer can, however, substantially reduce consumption of chlordane -- a colourless, tasteless pesticide that affects food products grown on the soil in which it was used -- by washing the vegetables in water before eating them.

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