(NaturalHealth365) A recent action by the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ensures that residue from a toxic pesticide can remain on food. Just under the deadline mandated by a federal appeals court, the new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt reversed a tentative 2015 decision to revoke food tolerances of chlorpyrifos – an insecticide linked with cancer and neurological problems.
With this action, Pruitt totally ignored the conclusions of the federal agency’s own scientists, as well as independent scientific studies and literature. But, wait, this story is worse than you can imagine.
The EPA shoots down petition stating that a chemical is too dangerous to be used
The decision was in response to a petition and lawsuit filed ten years ago by a pair of non-profit environmental groups, Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America. Stating there is inadequate evidence to establish a safe level at which children and infants won’t suffer developmental harm from chlorpyrifos, the groups called on the EPA to revoke tolerances – also known as maximum allowable levels – for the insecticide, along with canceling the relevant registrations.
Noting that new scientific evidence had emerged since chlorpyrifos’ registration in 2001, the petition took the EPA to task for ignoring relevant studies, calling it a “stunning example of the Agency turning a blind eye to robust, relevant data.” The petition also noted that the EPA considered exposure from food and drinking water, but not from inhalation – one of the most significant forms of exposure.
A federal appeals court mandated that the EPA take final action by March 31, 2017. And, you can read the entire petition here.
How can they ignore this?! Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxic hormone disruptor
Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used insecticides in the United States, with millions of pounds applied yearly – across the country – to crops that serve as food for both humans and livestock. It belongs to the organophosphate class of pesticides – a group of toxins originally developed as chemical weapons in World War II.
Organophosphates inhibit cholinesterase, thereby affecting a signaling protein known as acetylcholine, needed to send nerve impulses to muscles, digestive system, heart and brain. Signs of chlorpyrifos poisoning include contracted pupils, nausea, dizziness, convulsions and – in extreme cases – death by suffocation.
Experts say that many factors influence how a person will react to chlorpyrifos. These include nutritional status, health status, lifestyle, exposure to other chemicals or agents and genetic differences in the way detoxifying enzymes work in the body.
A fact you can NOT deny: Chlorpyrifos is a threat to human health
Extensive studies have shown the dangers of chlorpyrifos to the nervous system. Children, with smaller, still-developing body systems and organs, are particularly vulnerable.
In a 2016 study, researchers found lower IQs in children born to mothers who were living close to chemical-intensive farmland during their pregnancies. A Columbia University study showed that poor birth outcomes, including lower birth rate, were linked with increased cord blood levels of chlorpyrifos. These children not only weighed less at birth, but were more likely to experience delays in cognitive development. Researchers found that chlorpyrifos raised their risk five-fold for psychomotor development, and more than doubled risk for mental development delays.
Chlorpyrifos exposure causes harm to adults as well. An endocrine disruptor, chlorpyrifos is associated with reduced levels of thyroid stimulating hormone, and is also linked to lung cancer. In addition, individuals exposed to low, subclinical levels of chlorpyrifos have reported long-term deficits in concentration, word finding and short-term memory.
There’s MORE to this story: Chlorpyrifos jeopardizes the environment
Organophosphate pesticides such as chlorpyrifos are acutely toxic to birds, bees, mammals, and aquatic organisms – even at low doses. Earlier this year, the EPA found that chlorpyrifos likely causes harm to 97 percent of all species protected under the Endangered Species Act. One study showed that honeybees experience learning and memory deficits after ingesting small doses of chlorpyrifos – leading many to speculate that the chemical could be contributing to the bee colony collapse occurring worldwide.
Jay Feldman, executive director of the environmental group Beyond Pesticides, decried the action as an example of a “politicized decision” that puts the interests of the chemical industry ahead of public health. The EPA’s disinclination to protect the public, said Feldman, should serve as a warning to consumers that “we live in a ‘buyer beware’ country – with those who use and work around pesticides having to remain on the lookout to protect themselves and their families.
You can join Beyond Pesticides and other environmental groups in protesting the EPA’s decision. Because when enough people voice their concerns – we have a chance to stop this insanity.
The EPA talks out of both sides of its mouth
The most outrageous aspect of Pruitt’s decision is the fact that the EPA itself has found that high levels of chlorpyrifos exposure cause mental developmental delays, including ADHD. In 2016, the agency’s own Scientific Advisory Panel found a link between prenatal chlorpyrifos exposure and neurodevelopmental problems in children.
The EPA was forced to acknowledge that chlorpyrifos causes neurodevelopmental problems even when used at levels below those of the agency’s concern – and that existing ways of evaluating chlorpyrios’ impact are “not sufficiently health protective.”
Yet, the EPA ignored its own findings and rejected the petition – and allowed the ongoing use of chlorpyrifos.
In a press release, Pruitt pointed to the “need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment.”
The director of the Office of Pesticide Management Policy at the United States Department of Agriculture approved of the action, calling it a “welcome decision grounded in evidence and science,” and one that would “benefit” both consumers and farmers.
True – only if you consider neurological damage a “benefit.”
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