A 2010 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that hormone-disrupting phthalates, common fragrance chemicals used in soaps and shampoos, are winding up inside produce. A potential source? Human sewage sludge applied as a fertilizer to farm fields. The sludge can be tainted with shampoo chemicals that wash down the drain—and wind up at the water-treatment plant, the source of the sludge. Luckily, the use of human sewage sludge is banned in organic farming.
What to do about it: If you buy your produce from local farmers who aren’t certified organic, be sure to ask them how they fertilize the soil. If you use store-bought compost in your backyard garden, avoid compost that lists “biosolids” as an ingredient and bagged blends that are heavy and caked together or that put off an ammonia or sewer smell. High-quality compost should be crumbling, earthy, and dark.
Read More: Start Your Own Compost Pile.
Photo: Photo Alto