US Pediatricians Urge Chlorpyrifos Ban

03.07.2017 -

The American Academy of Pediatrics, a body that represents more than 66,000 pediatricians and pediatric surgeons, has written to Scott Pruitt, new administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging him to reconsider his decision to ditch plans to ban on the insecticide active ingredient chlorpyrifos.

Citing the negative impacts of the chemical, the physicians said, “there is a wealth of science demonstrating the detrimental effects of chlorpyrifos exposure to developing fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women,” adding that “the risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous.”

A week before a federal court deadline to make a final decision on its use, the EPA denied a petition to ban the active ingredient, calling it “crucial to US agriculture.” The agency said it planned to continue to review the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects of chlorpyrifos as part of the ongoing registration review and would complete its assessment of the chemical by the statutory deadline of Oct. 1, 2022.

At a congressional hearing on Jun. 15, US news media reported that Pruitt, appointed to the position by President Donald Trump, defended the decision to roll back the Obama administration’s plan to ban chlorpyrifos because he had “meaningful data and meaningful science,” suggesting it was safe for use. At the same time, the EPA said it had concluded that the science addressing the chemical “remains unresolved.”

Commenting on reports that Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris met with Trump privately, shortly before the decision not to proceed with a ban, an EPA spokeswoman said the agency  would make a decision “based on the science, not on real – or perceived – pressure from companies or environmental activists.” She said chlorpyrifos “was not discussed at the meeting.”

Dow is a leading producer of the chemical used on corn, strawberries, wheat, citrus, apples, broccoli and a number of other crops, as well as on golf courses, turf and in greenhouses. The US blocked its residential use in 2000, and it is also restricted in wildlife areas.

The original petitioners have filed a complaint against the Pruitt decision. According to the environmental groups, research shows that use of the insecticide is correlated with lower IQ, attention deficit disorders and developmental delays.