PRESSURE STATE EFFECTS SOCIETAL RESPONSE
Body Human/ Ecological/ Actions by TYPE A
Discharges/ Ambient Regulatory
Burden/ Ecological Human Responses Regulated
Emissions Conditions Uptake Health Risk Health Community TYPE B
Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 1 Level 2
Indicator: Percent of Foods Sampled with Pesticide Residues that Violated or
Were Presumed to Violate Tolerances
Most of the food produced for human consumption is grown • From 1991 to 1998, less than 0.2% of all sampled foods
using pesticides. Chemical control of weeds, insects, fungi and had residues that violated established tolerances.
rodents has allowed the pesticide-using world to intensify
agriculture and increase its productivity. However, these • In 1999, the percent of all sampled foods having
economic benefits are not without their risks to human and residues that violated established tolerances increased
environmental health. Because pesticides are so widely used in to 0.3%.
agriculture, they may remain as residues on fruits, vegetables,
grains and other foods. These pesticide residues are a public • However, in 2000 the percent of all sampled foods
health concern because, in certain doses, pesticides are known to having residues that violated established standards went
cause acute and chronic health effects. To prevent the back down to 0.2% percent.
occurrence of these adverse health effects, the EPA sets a • Despite a generally high trend in the percent of foods
tolerance, which is the amount of pesticide residue allowed to sampled that violated or were presumed to violate
remain on a food commodity. A violation occurs when a residue tolerances between 1995 and 1999, in 2000 the
is detected that exceeds the tolerance or when a residue is found percentage decrease substantially.
for which there is no tolerance set for that specific crop.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program Percent of Foods Sampled that Violated or
(PDP) is charged with monitoring and collecting data on Were Presumed to Violate Tolerances
pesticide residues on food. Since 1991, the PDP has tested 1993-2000
fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and processed products for 6%
residues of more than 160 different pesticides. The PDP relies
on random sampling of food commodities to provide realistic 5%
estimates of the population’s exposure to pesticide chemicals.
Percent of Samples
The chart displays the foods sampled by the PDP from 1993 to Tolerance
2000 that had residues that violated or were presumed to violate 3%
(i.e., no tolerance level was established for that crop) tolerances. 2%
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program, 1993-2000
Scale: Data are collected from select states and aggregated to illustrate national
Data Characteristics and Limitations: PDP samples are collected by 10
participating States, which represent all regions of the country and 50% of the
national population. Samples are collected close to the point of consumption, at
end markets and large chain store distribution centers. The PDP’s sampling
strategy is statistically reliable and allows for realistic estimation of pesticide
residues in the total food supply and of consumer exposure to these pesticide
Data are available annually and reported by food product and pesticide for which
the food product was tested.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Pesticide Data
Program: Annual Summary (Calendar years 1993-2000).
11 February 2003. Available online at:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pesticide Programs. Setting
Tolerances for Pesticide Residues in Foods. 20 November 2002.
Available online at: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/citizens.stprf.htm