Chlorpyrifos is a widely used pesticide that studies have shown can have a harmful impact on the brain development of infants and fetuses. EPA boss Scott Pruitt recently decided to reverse a push by the EPA to ban the chemical. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Pruitt’s decision came after official records show he had a meeting in March of this year with Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow chemicals, the company that manufactures chlorpyrifos.
According to the Associated Press, EPA scientists concluded in their research that ingesting even small amounts of chlorpyrifos can interfere with brain development in fetuses and small children.
An Associated Press reporter asked EPA spokesman J.P. Freire in April whether the EPA had met with any executives or lobbyists and Freire said the agency had not, contradicting this latest report.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, a group that represents more than 66,000 pediatricians nationwide, has been urging the EPA and Pruitt to take chlorpyrifos off the market for some time due to the overwhelming evidence that it causes harm. The group released a statement saying they are “deeply alarmed” by Pruitt’s decision.
“There is a wealth of science demonstrating the detrimental effects of chlorpyrifos exposure to developing fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women,” the academy said in a letter addressed to Pruitt. “The risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous.”
According to Forbes, the EPA in 2015 pushed for a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos on crops, 14 years after it had been banned for use in homes. Various studies on the pesticide have found evidence that it can cause reduced birth weights, childhood tremors, reduced motor functioning, stunted intellectual development, and structural changes in developing brains in children.
“In summary, the EPA’s assessment is that the CCCEH study, with supporting results from the other two U.S. cohort studies and the seven additional epidemiological studies reviewed in 2015, provides sufficient evidence that there are neurodevelopmental effects occurring at chlorpyrifos exposure levels below that required for AChE inhibition,” the EPA report says.
The Donald Trump administration is ideologically in favor of eliminating and weakening regulations on industry, even apparently when those regulations are in place to protect the brains of fetuses and young children. Whether the reasoning behind this is because they genuinely don’t believe scientific consensus or they just feel business interests are more important is anyone’s guess. Americans will have to decide if they are okay with an EPA under the control of Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump that would reverse a push by its own scientists in favor of the interests of a giant chemical corporation.
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