Chlorpyrifos is a chemical with a dark past. It was originally developed by the Nazis as a nerve agent during WWII.
Then, like other such toxic substances, it morphed into a pesticide after the war.
Researchers have not only found a link between exposure to it and “serious neurological damage” in kids, but that that damage has been found to be “permanent, irreversible and lifelong” — and that’s at low levels of exposure.
But despite all we now know about how it can damage the brain — making it especially dangerous where children and pregnant women are concerned — it’s still being used, and it can be found in the food you eat and feed your family.
The worst part is, not only isn’t the EPA lifting a finger to stop it… but just a few months ago, the agency put the kibosh on what was expected to finally be a complete ban on the chemical.
The only good news in regard to chlorpyrifos is that we now know some of the foods that are most likely to carry its residue.
The bad news is that these are some of the same foods our kids and grandkids eat the most.
Not coming out in the wash
It wasn’t quite two years ago when environmental groups were giving credit to the EPA for finally doing its job.
That was after the agency got around to responding to a petition filed almost 10 years earlier in part by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) — and promised to get this dangerous chemical out of our lives for good. That should have been the end for chlorpyrifos, which the EPA banned specifically for pest control use in our homes over 15 years ago. Before that time, you could easily find this brain toxin in flea shampoos, pet sprays, and collars.
Unbelievably, at one time it was also widely used for pest control in schools and daycare centers!
Unfortunately, however, it’s still being sprayed on the food we eat — and in substantial amounts. And that’s what the EPA said it was going to protect us from.
But surprise, surprise! The proposed ban is now off the table.
As the NRDC said, the feds have thrown our kids’ health under the “agrochemical bus.” Instead of putting an end to such uses, it has been swayed by the likes of Dow AgroSciences (which sells around five million pounds of the pesticide to U.S. farmers every year).
As you can imagine, Dow was thrilled by the decision, and the company issued a statement saying that it is “confident” the chemical has a “wide margin of protection for human health and safety.”
But that’s simply absurd, Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group said. The idea that we should continue to use a pesticide linked to autism is “an outrageous, ridiculous statement.”
Obviously, companies such as Dow have just as much input into the regulatory process as the feds do.
It was such a clear move to protect the interests of the chemical industry that Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico just introduced a bill last week called “Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act of 2017” to try and accomplish what our so-called “watchdog” agency won’t.
But even if the bill gets passed, which is a real long shot, we still have the problem of dodging this nerve poison right now.
Remember: We’re talking about a substance in which low levels have been clearly linked to learning disabilities, lower IQs, ADHD, and autism!
And if you needed any more reasons to do whatever it takes to give this poison the boot, children who have early exposure to it are also at a much higher risk of coming down with breathing problems and reduced lung function.
Since the EPA, the very same agency that’s refusing to get rid of chlorpyrifos, has found residues of the chemical on food up to 14,000 times higher than what it considers “safe,” we’re going to have to take matters into our own hands.
So, here are three steps you need to take right now:
#1 Toss the toxic apples: This favorite fruit appears to be treated with chlorpyrifos the most. Over 55 percent of our conventional apple crop is sprayed with it — and yes, residue has been found in washed and peeled apples, making organic the only choice where this kid-friendly fruit is concerned. Other fruits you need to buy only organic (or not at all) include peaches, nectarines, strawberries, citrus fruits, grapes, and melons.
#2 Say “no” to sprayed nuts: On top of our favorite fruits, nuts such as walnuts and almonds are commonly sprayed with the chemical. Luckily, organic versions are easy to find and don’t cost an arm and a leg.
#3 Beware of runoff: If you live close to any farms and get your water from a well, it’s urgent that you get your water tested — and not just for chlorpyrifos, but for a variety of other pesticides and herbicides.
“Senators seek to ban brain-damaging pesticide the EPA wants to keep legal” Meagan Morris, July 26, 2017, Metro, metro.us