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Food & Water

Pregnant Women

Fruits and vegetables

Use
Organic fruits and veggies
Non-organic produce that's low in pesticides

Some pesticides are linked to IQ loss for exposures during pregnancy and early life. These are the best picks, but no matter what you choose, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables - benefits outweigh risks, hands down.

Fruits: Strawberries, apples, and nectarines top EWG's list of high pesticide fruits to buy organic. Better choices of non-organic fruit: cantaloupe, kiwi, and pineapples.

Veggies: Look for USDA's organic seal on sweet peppers, celery and spinach, which are otherwise high in pesticides. Good non-organic picks include corn, frozen peas and cauliflower.

For the full list including safer countries of origin and which non-organic fruits and veggies are best, see Consumer Report's Risk Guide and EWG's Shopper's Guide.

Don't Use
Garden pesticides

Skip the garden pesticides. The residues end up in your food, body, soil, and local streams and rivers. Find varieties that thrive without the chemicals.

Home water filters for arsenic

Use
Effective arsenic water filters

Step 1: You can learn how much arsenic is in your water from your utility's online annual water quality report, or by getting your private well water tested (contact your state drinking water office). It makes sense to use a home water filter if arsenic is above 5 parts per billion (ppb).

Step 2: Get a filter. Only granular ferric and titanium adsorption filters have been shown to remove both types of arsenic normally found in water (+3 and +5). Check out the following whole-house and single-tap models: 3M Aqua-Pure Arsenic Reduction System and Reynolds ClearStream Arsenic Removal System. Removing arsenic isn't cheap. A filter installed at a single tap can run about $400 up front and $120 each year for maintenance. Whole house filters are more. If you can't install a filter, consider using bottled water if your baby drinks formula made with added water.

Don't Use
The wrong arsenic filter for your water

A water filter certified to remove arsenic might not remove the type of arsenic found in your water. Anion exchange and reverse osmosis systems, for example, don't work everywhere. Contact your local health department or a water treatment company specializing in home water treatment to learn what will work for your water chemistry. Whatever filter you choose, keep it maintained. Filters past their due date can become clogged and ineffective.

Home water filters for lead

Use
Water filters for lead

To reduce lead levels in your water, use a water filter certified certified by NSF to remove "total lead." Aquasana and Zero Technologies make simple pitcher-style filters for lead. Filters that mount to your faucet are made by Culligan, Kaz, and Brita. See NSF’s water filter guide for these and other available brands and models. Be sure to factor in filter replacement costs when choosing a style. (Test your water for lead here.)

Don't Use
Water filters past due for maintenance

Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for maintaining filters and replacing cartridges. Filters that are past due for maintenance can become clogged and coated in bacteria. Contaminants can slip right through.

Meat, milk, and cheese

Use
Low-fat meat and dairy
Slow cooker

You’ve heard that low-fat meat and dairy foods are healthier than high-fat. Cutting the fat also cuts your exposure to PCBs and other toxins that build up in fatty food, the body, and breast milk. Health experts recommend lean meat, and fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk for most people. Remember that children under 1 year old should not drink straight cow’s milk or soy milk.

Need another reason to go low-fat? Meat fat and high-heat cooking create toxins called PAHs. Use a slow cooker with low-fat meats to cut the PAH load.

Don't Use
Charred meat

The flavorful black bits on your meat and in the pan contain PAHs, toxins linked to IQ loss and ADHD for exposures during pregnancy. Here are some options for cutting down the load: slice visible fat off the meat before cooking, line your grill with foil to keep fat from dripping onto open flames, marinade before grilling, and precook a bit in the microwave.

Rice

Use
Basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan
Sushi rice from the U.S.
Brown rice from California

There's enough arsenic in rice that children who eat it can have 40 percent more arsenic in their bodies than children who don't. Exposures are especially a concern for pregnant women and children: arsenic is harmful to the developing brain, linked to IQ loss.

Rice picks up arsenic from fields formerly used to grow cotton, when arsenic pesticides were common. Some types are safer than others, grown in areas where arsenic wasn’t used. To cut your exposures, eat other grains, like quinoa and barley. You can also cook rice in extra water that you pour off afterwards.

Don't Use
Rice from Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, or U.S.

Testing by Consumer Reports found the highest levels of arsenic in rice from these areas.

Seafood

Use
Wild salmon and sardines

Choose seafood high in brain-boosting nutrients (omega-3 fatty acid) and low in the common seafood pollutant mercury. Good choices from our partners at EWG include wild Alaska salmon, sardines from the Pacific, farmed mussels, farmed rainbow trout, and Atlantic mackerel (not trawled). Talk to your store manager if you can't find them. Get more picks from EWG's seafood guide and Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide.

Don't Use
Swordfish and tuna

Some seafood has too much mercury and too few nutrients - risks exceed benefits. Avoid shark, swordfish and orange roughy. Pregnant women and children should also limit canned tuna - light has lower levels than white, but scientists found that for both types the potential harm to a baby's brain exceeds the fish nutrients' brain-boosting assets.