I propose that the government ban these 7 “organophosphate” pesticides that are are toxic to the human brain:
- chlorpyrifos-methyl (Dursban, Lorsban)
- dicrotophos (Bidrin, Diapadrin)
This class of pesticides has been proven to cause neuro-developmental harm to children and to poison farm workers and others in surrounding communities when they’re sprayed in agricultural fields. After years of delay, the EPA recently acknowledged the extensive evidence that exposure to these pesticides damages development of children’s brains. It’s time to act to protect children from reduced IQ, delayed development, autism and attention disorders associated with these dangerous pesticides.
You may recall that before 1985 the powerful and deadly “organochloride” pesticides and herbicides had been predominantly used in the United States. DDT, Dildren, Chlordane. Sound familiar? Many cancer deaths of people I knew were most certainly caused by these substances but it takes years for a cancer to develop and when the diagnosis comes in it is impossible to trace it back to a single cause. The trail has “gone cold” as the detectives often say in criminal matters. Ever heard of Agent Orange? These organochlorides were bad chemicals, described by scientists as “perhaps the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man“:
In 1969 it was revealed to the public that the 2,4,5-T was contaminated with a dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD), and that the TCDD was causing many of the previously unexplained adverse health effects which were correlated with Agent Orange exposure. TCDD has been described as “perhaps the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man”.(Galston 1979, cited in) Internal memoranda revealed that Monsanto (a major manufacturer of 2,4,5-T) had informed the U.S. government in 1952 that its 2,4,5-T was contaminated. In the manufacture of 2,4,5-T, accidental overheating of the reaction mixture easily causes the product to condense into the toxic self-condensation product TCDD. At the time, precautions were not taken against this unintended side reaction, which also caused the Seveso disaster in Italy in 1976.
In 1979, Yale biologist Arthur Galston, who specialized in herbicide research, published a review of what was known at the time about the toxicity of TCDD. Even “vanishingly small” quantities of dioxin in the diet caused adverse health effects when tested on animals. Since then, TCDD has been comprehensively studied. It has been associated with increased neoplasms in every animal bioassay reported in the scientific literature. The National Toxicology Program has classified TCDD as “known to be a human carcinogen”, frequently associated with soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
Beginning in the late-1980s the manufacturers of these organochlorine compounds removed them from the market and the organophosate compounds took their place, heralded as “safe” by the chemical producers who made tillions of dollars in profits from their sale and use. But are the organophosphates safe?
Commonly used organophosphates have included parathion, malathion, methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dichlorvos, phosmet, fenitrothion, tetrachlorvinphos, azamethiphos, and azinphos-methyl. Malathion is widely used in agriculture, residential landscaping, public recreation areas, and in public health pest control programs such as mosquito eradication. In the US, it is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide. Forty organophosphate pesticides are registered in the U.S., with at least 73 million pounds used in agricultural and residential settings.
They are of concern to both scientists and regulators because they work by irreversibly blocking an enzyme critical to nerve function in both insects and humans. Even at relatively low levels, organophosphates may be most hazardous to the brain development of fetuses and young children. The EPA banned most residential uses of organophosphates in 2001, but they are still sprayed agriculturally on fruits and vegetables. They are also used to control pests such as mosquitos in public spaces such as parks. They can be absorbed through the lungs or skin or by eating them on food.
The answer seems obvious to me if “they work irreversibly blocking an enzyme critical to nerve function in both insects and humans.” Not safe. Still they were allowed by the EPA and were used heavily in agriculture and in termite control at public schools and residential developments. In a CNN story by Sarah Clark from Health.com from 2010 _ “Study: ADHD linked to pesticide exposure” _ these chemicals were reportedly linked to ADHD in children.
In another article from 200o written by Jon R. Luoma he highlights the well-known danger of organophosphates and the incomprehensible refusal of the Regulators at the EPA to do anything about it. The article, “The Ban That Wasn’t – the EPA declares a pesticide dangerous to kids — but leaves it on food and in the fields” shows a cynical process of cooperation and almost partnership between giant pesticide manufacturers and EPA regulators:
It seemed to be a victory. Environmentalists, pediatricians, and consumer advocates calling for a ban on Dursban, one of the most widely used pesticides, spurred the Environmental Protection Agency to broker a deal in June to phase out over-the-counter sales for household uses. The voluntary agreement with a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co. was prompted by evidence that hundreds of children are poisoned each year by the pesticide, which is currently used in more than 800 products ranging from flea collars to bug sprays.
EPA Administrator Carol Browner declared that the agency was “shutting off the manufacture of this chemical.” An Associated Press headline announced: “EPA to Ban Common Pesticide.” But a closer look at the deal reveals that the agency not only failed to ban Dursban, it did not recall the product already on store shelves. It also did nothing to limit the use of dozens of chemically related pesticides called organophosphates that are still on the market.
Starting with Bill Clinton and continuing during the Bush (Chaney, Rumsfeld) Prseidency the EPA was terribly weakened as was the entire fabric of government regulation. The Wall Street “corportaeers” took over regulating themselves.
Dursban is one example of many. From 1990 to 2000 Dursban was a leading pesticide sprayed on the ground around and under most public schools from Hawai’i to Florida as a way to control subterranean termites. A treatment would apply 300 gallons of pesticide per 1,000 square feet of foundation. That is a huge load of dangerous chemical. It leached into the ground water and evaporated into the air in the and around the buildings. Exposure could cause cancers many years later when it is impossible to link a cause to the cancer. And the kids weren’t safe at home either because most residential builders used an organophosphate pesticide, often Dursban, around and under homes. Because kids have many years to live, and because they are small and have smaller organs, toxic substances are much more dangerous to children than to adults. By the way, “chlorpyrifos” on the list is the type of chemical that Dursban contains. In February of 2016 it is high time we forced the government to stand up to the Wall Street corporate polluters and make our communities safe.
Earthjustice is asking for 50,000 people to ask the government to ban the 7 pesticides listed above. Please join them as I did by clicking on their link that sends in your vote on the issue.
My law office is dedicated to safety and injury prevention, not to get new cases but because it is important to stop the injuries and death from pesticides. Pesticides and health are an important focus. My beautiful wife Valerie died of cancer in 2008. I can’t prove that pesticide exposure led to her developing cancer but I have a strong feeling that like many Hawai’i residents, pesticides cause many illnesses. See my other articles on this subject:
A resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, Wayne Parson is an Injury Attorney that has dedicate his life to improving the delivery of justice to the people of his community and throughout the United States. He is driven to make sure that the wrongful, careless or negligent behavior that caused his clients' injury or loss does not happen to others.