Op-Ed: Eliminating the Pesticides Inside Us
One of the early acts of new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt was to reverse the 2015 federal ban on chlorpyrifos, a dangerous pesticide proven to harm children and developing fetuses. This reversal—challenged by Maryland and other states—was overruled last summer but a lift on the ban is currently being reconsidered in U.S. appeals court. In an opinion piece published in Maryland Matters, Assistant Professor Devon Payne-Sturges (Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health) implores policymakers to review the evidence on chlorpyrifos and act to ban the use of the dangerous chemical.
In the piece, Dr. Payne-Sturges highlights the findings of a new Environmental Research study exploring the effects of an all organic diet on pesticide exposure and urges policymakers to closely review it—and all of the evidence on chlorpyrifos—and to act in the public interest to ban this dangerous chemical.
She notes that among the participants in the study, “levels of the highly toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos dropped by 61 percent after just one week of organic foods.”
“This important new study shows how an organic diet can reduce our exposure to hazardous pesticides. We owe it to ourselves, our children and to our society’s health as a whole, to provide all consumers with a nutritious organic diet free of toxic pesticide residues,” Dr. Payne-Sturges urges.
Dr. Payne-Sturges also revisits her work managing the EPA’s efforts to review research on the effects of prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos. “We reviewed nearly 20 years of research demonstrating that chlorpyrifos harms children," she explains. Their review found that "Prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos, from dietary exposure, can result in long-term, potentially irreversible changes in the unborn and developing child’s brain structure.”
Dr. Payne-Sturges is also joined by Assistant Professor Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá’s in urging Maryland legislators to enact a ban. In Dr. Quirós-Alcalá’s testimony to the Maryland Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on February 27, 2019, she urged the passage of SB 270 to prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos and other insecticides containing chlorpyrifos in the state of Maryland based on her prior work and the weight of the evidence from several peer-reviewed scientific studies. Dr. Quirós-Alcalá represented a group of 65 Maryland scientists—including the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health—that signed a letter in support of the bill to ban chlorpyrifos.