Earlier this week, the Trump administration’s EPA released a risk assessment for the pesticide chlorpyrifos and downplayed previous findings by EPA scientists that the toxic chemical is harmful to children’s brains.
Several studies have found that babies exposed to chlorpyrifos in the womb can suffer from lower birth weights, attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorder, lower IQ, and limited working memory, writes EcoWatch.
According to Earthjustice, the EPA is rejecting years of established science saying the science addressing the pesticide’s “neurodevelopment effects remains unresolved,” as it tries to keep a widely used toxic pesticide in fruits and vegetables, as well as feed crops that lead to residues in milk, eggs, and meat.
“This shows that EPA has completely abandoned any commitment to protecting children from this extremely toxic chemical when their own scientists recommended twice to ban it. The science is being overridden by politics,” says Natural Resources Defense Council senior director for health Erik D. Olson.
With the assessment, the EPA also discounted several studies that had taken place showing the harmful causes of chlorpyrifos exposure in utero and developmental disorders in toddlers. One notable study conducted by Columbia University was among those discounted.
“The EPA is ignoring decades of science by leading universities and in doing so, it’s neglecting its duty to protect children from pesticides. Ignoring the demonstrated harm to children doesn’t make chlorpyrifos safe, it just shows a commitment to keep a toxic pesticide in the market and in our food at all cost,” claimed Earthjustice managing attorney Patti Goldman.
As The New York Times reports, the assessment may be the first major test of the Trump administration’s intention, often referred to as its “secret science” proposal, to bar or give less weight to scientific studies that can’t or don’t publicly release their underlying data. This controversial policy would eliminate many studies that track the effects of exposure to substances on people’s health over long periods of time, because the data often includes confidential medical records of the subjects, scientists have said.
Back in 2014, EPA scientists showed concerns about the pesticide and recommended a ban, but this was halted when the EPA fell under Trump’s administration.
Some states, like California and Hawaii, have taken it upon themselves by banning the chemical. But a federal level ban is what the country needs.
Corteva, the largest producer of chlorpyrifos, has been found lobbying the EPA and challenging state decisions to ban the toxic chemical.