Fellows in the News

Editor's note: The video attached to this story was produced by Organic for All.

A new peer-reviewed study, whose authors included Switzer Fellows Asa Bradman and Kendra Klein, compared pesticide levels in the bodies of four families across the country on a non-organic and organic diet. It shows that pesticides in their bodies dropped up to 95% within one week on an organic diet.

The study found pesticides associated with cancers, autism, learning disabilities, infertility, Parkinson’s, hormone disruption and more in every participant.



Previous diet intervention studies indicate that an organic diet can reduce urinary pesticide metabolite excretion; however, they have largely focused on organophosphate (OP) pesticides. Knowledge gaps exist regarding the impact of an organic diet on exposure to other pesticides, including pyrethroids and neonicotinoids, which are increasing in use in the United States and globally.


To investigate the impact of an organic diet intervention on levels of insecticidesherbicides, and fungicides or their metabolites in urine collected from adults and children.


We collected urine samples from four racially and geographically diverse families in the United States before and after an organic diet intervention (n = 16 participants and a total of 158 urine samples).


We observed significant reductions in urinary levels of thirteen pesticide metabolites and parent compounds representing OP, neonicotinoid, and pyrethroid insecticides and the herbicide 2,4-D following the introduction of an organic diet. The greatest reductions were observed for clothianidin (− 82.7%; 95% confidence interval [95% CI]: − 86.6%, − 77.6%; p < 0.01), malathion dicarboxylic acid (MDA), a metabolite of malathion (− 95.0%; 95% CI: − 97.0%, − 91.8%; p < 0.01), and 3,5,6-trichlor-2-pyridinol (TCPy), a metabolite of chlorpyrifos(− 60.7%; 95% CI: − 69.6%, − 49.2%; p < 0.01). Metabolites or parent compounds of the fungicides boscalid, iprodione, and thiabendazole and the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid were not detected among participants in our study.


An organic diet was associated with significant reductions in urinary excretion of several pesticide metabolites and parent compounds. This study adds to a growing body of literature indicating that an organic diet may reduce exposure to a range of pesticides in children and adults. Additional research is needed to evaluate dietary exposure to neonicotinoids, which are now the most widely used class of insecticides in the world.


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