The classic "dirty dozen" is a list of the twelve produce items with the highest levels of pesticide residues. Because of the link between pesticide exposure and ailments such as cancer and neurological disorders, EWG recommends buying these twelve items (including peaches and apples) organic or avoiding them altogether. (Other items of produce, such as onions, make up the "clean 15," which have the lowest pesticide residues even when not grown organically. Families who cannot afford to buy everything organic should focus on the "clean 15" when selecting pesticide-grown produce.)
"There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies," EWG and KAB caution. Each member of the "dirty dozen" is profiled, with a description of its effects on the human body as well as practical advice on how to avoid it. For example, phthalates can trigger death-inducing signaling in testicular cells: "cell death -- in your man parts," as the guide's authors pithily state. In fact, the damage to men's hormone production can extend for multiple generations. Avoiding polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and anything labeled "fragrance" can help families keep their homes free of phthalates. (This doesn't mean never scenting one's home, however; many people, including this blogger, have come up with non-toxic ways to introduce pleasing natural fragrances into our indoor environments.)
Some members of the "dirty dozen," such as dioxin, are hard to avoid because they are so pervasive. However, the EWG and KAB recommend vigilance about our personal environments, wise choices when buying food and personal care items, and political action to avoid introducing new toxic chemicals into our environment. Limiting the damage is better than doing nothing, even if total harm elimination is impossible.