A national group representing pediatricians says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put children at significant risk by refusing to restrict uses of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.
In a letter Tuesday to EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Trump-era EPA board member sues over firing EPA bans use of pesticide linked to developmental problems in children MORE, the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Environmental Working Group, accused the EPA of ignoring its own findings that chlorpyrifos poses specific risks to children, infants and developing fetuses.
“We are deeply alarmed by EPA’s decision not to finalize the proposed rule to end chlorpyrifos uses on food — a decision that was premised on the need for further study on the effects of chlorpyrifos on children before finalizing a rule,” the two groups wrote to Pruitt.
“The risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous,” they added. “The clear statutory language of the [Food Quality Protection Act] requires that EPA revoke tolerances in the face of uncertainty. EPA has no new evidence indicating that chlorpyrifos exposures are safe.”
The letter comes amid continued debate over the safety of chlorpyrifos, a controversial pesticide sold by Dow Chemical Co. that is used on crops like corn, almonds and cotton.
Pruitt in March denied a petition to ban its use on food crops, reversing the Obama administration, which proposed such restrictions in 2015. The EPA had previously found evidence of neurological harm and developmental problems from chlorpyrifos consumption, particularly in young children.
Dow and agricultural interest groups had pressed Pruitt to reject the petition.
Pruitt has defended his decision as being based on sound science.
“We based that decision like we base every decision. It was based on meaningful data, meaningful science,” he told a House Appropriations Committee panel earlier this month. “And it was a decision that we felt was merited based upon that and a collection of information we consider.”
But the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Environmental Working Group disagree, saying the scientific evidence clearly pointed in the opposition direction.
“Symptoms in people acutely overexposed to chlorpyrifos can range from runny noses and drooling to nausea, vomiting, headaches, muscle cramps, and even loss of coordination. Severe poisoning can cause unconsciousness, convulsions, difficulty breathing, paralysis and death,” they wrote in Tuesday's letter.
“EPA has consistently found that chlorpyrifos is not safe, particularly in regard to in-utero exposure and exposures to children,” they said, asking Pruitt to reverse his March decision.
“America’s children today and in the future deserve and demand no less.”