Chemicals coat apples decades after Alar scare

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YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — More than two decades ago, parents dumped apples from their children’s lunch boxes and poured juice down the drain because of concerns about Alar, a chemical used to enhance the fruit’s crunch and color.

Most researchers agree that apples are safer today although most still carry pesticide residue. In 2005, the last year results were available, the Department of Agriculture found pesticide residue on 98 percent of apples it tested, but at levels that met federal guidelines.

Such statistics leave consumer groups and health experts conflicted.

Richard Wiles of the Washington-based Environmental Working Group says pesticides today are less toxic than 20 years ago. But he says the issue needs another look to determine the best way to protect the public.