07/18/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

8 Pesticides In Your Own Kitchen (Whether You Use Pesticides or Not)

A new study finds that the kitchen floors in most U.S. homes are laced with pesticides -- including pesticides known to cause cancer or disrupt the normal functioning of the human hormonal system.

Sure, but if you don't use pesticides yourself, you're safe -- right?


The Environmental Protection Agency study found traces of pesticides banned or discontinued long ago. Like 37 years ago, in the case of DDT.

Here are the 8 pesticides most likely to be found on the kitchen floor in U.S. homes:

  1. Permethrin (an insecticide found in some head lice treatments, pet flea and tick products and other insect repellents) was found in 89% of homes tested.
  2. Chlorpyrifos (an insecticide sold for decades for home use as Dursban until 2001) was found in 78% of homes.
  3. Chlordane (an insecticide banned in 1984, but used for decades on home lawns and gardens before that) was found in 74% of homes.
  4. Piperonyl butoxide (a chemical used with pyrethrin and similar pesticides to kill wasps, ants, fleas and ticks, lice and other pests) was found in 52% of homes.
  5. Cypermethrin (an insecticide found in some Raid products and other ant and roach killers) was found in 46% of homes.
  6. DDT (an insecticide banned in 1972 but used widely to kill mosquitoes and other insects for decades before then) was found in 42% of homes. (DDE, a breakdown product of DDT was found in 33% of homes, suggesting that toxic DDT doesn't break down easily inside homes.)
  7. Fipronil (an insecticide used in some Frontline and Maxforce products) was found in 40% of homes. (A recent NRDC study found pets themselves are a source of pesticide exposure to children, because of flea and tick treatments.)
  8. Diazinon (an insecticide used widely to kill ants, roaches and other pests, as well as lawn and garden pests, until household use was banned in 2004) was found in 35% of homes.

These aren't the only pesticides worth avoiding. Just last week, California listed 30 more common toxic chemicals that cause cancer or developmental and reproductive harm. Among them: Carbaryl, a household pesticide used to kill a range of insects, and sold as Sevin by GardenTech and Bayer.

Beyond Pesticides publishes a good resource for finding the least toxic method for dealing with common pests.

To avoid pesticides on foods (yes, they can linger there, too) check out The Daily Green's list of the Dirty Dozen foods with the highest pesticide residue. Choosing organic when buying those foods is a good idea if you want to avoid pesticide exposure, or go ahead and start your own organic garden.