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US government takes the ‘P’ out of EPA

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By Jackie Rainford-Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

The Environmental Protection Agency was founded in 1970 by Richard Nixon and his administration. America’s environmental quality was at an all-time low. Polluted lakes and rivers, smog-filled cities, and heavy auto exhaust were causing health issues. In response, the agency sought to clean up the environment and protect human health.

The Trump administration seems to go against what this agency stands for. On March 29, 2017, two days before a court ordered deadline, newly appointed head of the EPA Scott Pruitt reversed the order to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos (klor-PY’-ruh-fahs). He did this despite the overwhelming evidence that it harms children, workers and the environment.

Pruitt said that there isn’t enough evidence to back up the harmful effects and he’d like to continue to look at the science. He also said the ban would put undue financial burden on businesses currently using the pesticide.

Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxin that is in the same chemical family as sarin gas—the nerve gas developed by Nazi’s during World War II. It acts on the nervous system of the living organism it comes into contact with if it’s touched, inhaled or eaten.

In 2014, the EPA acknowledged the peer-reviewed science relating chlorpyrifos exposure with brain damage to children. Alarmingly, the brain damage occurs at exposures far below the EPA’s minimum standard. And the study found acute poisoning risks to workers who handled it.

In 2016, the agency concluded that children 1 to 2 years old are being exposed to up to 140 times the safe levels of chlorpyrifos through food alone. It also stated that there is no safe level of chlorpyrifos in drinking water—in spite of the fact that it’s readily found in ground water and even in drinking water in some areas.

Here’s a list of some of the crops grown using this neurotoxin: sweet potatoes, almonds, apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, soybeans, cotton, corn, wheat, sprouts, cranberries, broccoli and cauliflower. Studies show that melons and citrus sprayed with chlorpyrifos, even after being washed and peeled, still contained toxic residue.

Those most at risk are fetuses, infants, growing children and women who are pregnant or nursing. But all adults can experience negative side effects.

Health risks range from common cold-like symptoms (nausea, dizziness, headaches and rashes) to birth defects, attention deficit disorders, asthma, infertility, autism, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and various cancers including brain cancer, breast cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia. In extreme cases, chlorpyrifos exposure has resulted in death.

Clearly, the EPA isn’t going to protect us from this. What can we do?

First and foremost, we can buy organically grown food. As a capitalist society, we vote with our dollars. More and more major agriculture companies are moving toward organic farming because the demand continues to rise.

Second, use organic non-toxic products on your home plants and lawn. Avoid products with chlorpyrifos, which Dow Chemical Company labels as Dursban.

Third, the EPA is funded by our tax dollars. Send messages to your congressional representatives, governor and state attorney general asking them to hold the EPA accountable and ban this neurotoxin.

Fourth, if you golf or live near a golf course, ask management if chlorpyrifos or Dursban is used. Ask them what measures they’re taking toward organic grounds keeping.

Even if politicians and businesses agree with Scott Pruitt that the scientific evidence is not yet conclusive, let them know that we should be erring on the side of caution and not using it until it’s 100 percent proven to cause no harm. The bottom line is that the EPA should be using extreme precaution—but it’s not.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, culture consultant and public speaker. Contact her at

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