Q: Are people at risk from pesticide residue on the skin of citrus fruits?
A: Residues from various pesticides may be found on the skin of many fruits, including citrus fruits, but there are official regulatory efforts to keep the levels low in the U.S. market, and there are ways to remove most of the chemicals before the fruit is consumed, said Lambert H.B. Kanga, professor of entomology at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.
The concentration of residues depends on the class of pesticide and frequency of applications, Kanga said, and several federal agencies work to protect consumers by setting tolerance limits and regulating use and exposure.
Residues become a concern when repeated exposure to potentially harmful compounds lets them accumulate and gradually increase in concentration to a harmful level, he said, adding that some individuals may be more susceptible than others.
As for removal, the National Pesticide Information Center points out that no washing method is 100 percent effective. Still, Kanga said, “there are some valuable techniques that provide the best possible outcome when cleaning your fruits and vegetables."
Washing with slightly warm water, 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, is most effective for firm fruits and vegetables, he said.