Biology: The Dynamic Science (Mind...

4th Edition
Peter J. Russell + 2 others
ISBN: 9781305389892



Biology: The Dynamic Science (Mind...

4th Edition
Peter J. Russell + 2 others
ISBN: 9781305389892
Textbook Problem

Products labeled as “organic” fill an increasing amount of space on supermarket shelves. What does that label mean? A food that carries the USDA’s organic label must be produced without pesticides such as malathion and chlorpyrifos that conventional farmers typically use on fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Does eating organic food significantly affect the level of pesticide residues in a child’s body? Chensheng Lu of Emory University used urine testing to find out. For 15 days, the urine of 23 children (ages 3–11) was monitored for breakdown products of pesticides. During the first 5 days (phase 1), children ate their standard, nonorganic diet. For the next 5 days (phase 2), they ate organic versions of the same types of foods and drinks. Then, for the final 5 days (phase 3), the children returned to their nonorganic diet. The results are shown in the Table.

Levels of Metabolites (Breakdown Products) of Malathion and Chlorpyrifos in the Urine of Children Taking Part in a Study of Effects of an Organic Diet*

Malathion Metabolite Chlorpyrifos Metabolite
Study Phase No. of Samples Mean (μg/L) Maximum (μg/L) Mean (μg/L) Maximum (μg/L)
1. nonorganic 87 2.9 96.5 7.2 31.1
2. organic 116 0.3 7.4 1.7 17.1
3. nonorganic 156 4.4 263.1 5.8 25.3

* The difference in the mean level of metabolites in the organic and inorganic phases of the study was statistically significant

During which phase of the experiment did the children’s urine contain the lowest level of the malathion metabolite?

Source: C. Lu et al. 2006. Organic diets significantly lower children’s dietary exposure to organophosphorus pesticides. Environmental Health Perspectives 114:260–263.

Summary Introduction

To analyze:

The phase in which the urine of the children contains the lowest level of malathion metabolite in the following experiment.


Levels of metabolites (breakdown products) of malathion and chlorpyrifos in the urine of children taking part in a study of effects of an organic diet:

Malathion metabolite Chlorpyrifos metabolite
Study phase No. of samples Mean (µg/L) Maximum (µg/L) Mean (µg/L) Maximum (µg/L)
Nonorganic 87 2.9 96.5 7.2 31.1
Organic 116 0.3 7.4 1.7 17.1
Nonorganic 156 4.4 263.1 5.8 25.3


Organic foods are produced by using methods that meet the standard of organic farming. These foods are produced without any chemical fertilizers; only green manure or plant debris is added to the fields. The chemicals get accumulated in the body and cause diseases, but organic food is considered ecofriendly as it does not have chemicals.


There are 87 samples in the first phase of the test, out of which 2.9 (µg/L), mean malathion metabolite and 96.5 (µg/L) maximum of malathion metabolite are recorded.

The second phase has 116 samples, out of which 0.3 (µg/L) mean of malathion metabolite and 7.4 (µg/L) maximum of malathion metabolite are recorded.

The third phase has 156 samples, out of which 4.4 (µg/L) mean of malathion metabolite and 263.1 (µg/L) maximum of malathion metabolite are recorded...

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