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Daily News Blog

03
Dec

Trump Administration Pushing Ahead with Two Toxic Pesticides during Transition

(Beyond Pesticides, December 3, 2020) As the Trump administration winds down, it appears that it will continue to push through decisions that build on its formidable record of weakening environmental and public health protection. Ignoring documented threats to pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could finalize its interim approval for flonicamid, a bee-toxic pesticide. Separately, EPA may reapprove the disinfectant ethylene oxide (EtO), despite concerns over carcinogenicity. NYU Law is tracking these and other last-minute federal environmental decisions on its webpage Midnight Watch.

EPA proposed an interim reregistration decision for flonicamid in September 2020. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been highly and publicly critical of the agency’s approach on this chemical. In a public comment, Becerra wrote that EPA did not collect data from required follow-up studies regarding the impact of flonicamid on pollinators. EPA’s own risk assessment states that a “full assessment of pollinator risk cannot be conducted until data are available.”

AG Becerra stated, “The Trump Administration’s EPA is failing at one of its most basic jobs by plowing ahead with the registration process for flonicamid before receiving additional data on its impact to pollinators like bees.” He continued, “California relies on pollination from bees for agriculture, a driving force of our state’s economy. We cannot ignore the environmental and economic implications of this decision – and the EPA cannot ignore its responsibilities under the law. The EPA must do its homework before it allows flonicamid to be used for another 15 years.”

EtO is used to fumigate some agricultural products and sterilize medical equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administartion (OSHA) lists its many concerning hazards: “EtO is both flammable and highly reactive. Acute exposures to EtO gas may result in respiratory irritation and lung injury, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and cyanosis. Chronic exposure has been associated with the occurrence of cancer, reproductive effects, mutagenic changes, neurotoxicity, and sensitization.”

On November 20, EPA released a draft risk assessment for ethylene oxide. The risk assessment fails to endorse a definitive method for evaluating cancer risks. Instead, some of the range of methods it provides suggest that EtO’s potential to be carcinogenic is lower than what is estimated by EPA’s independent Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program. EPA is accepting public comments on the draft risk assessment until January 19, 2021.

EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment has been compromised by an administration that rather blatantly prioritizes corporate gain, according to advocates. Some current EPA employees are holding the line against last minute changes driven by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler et al. However, it is possible these decisions on toxics will be pushed through and there will be 15 more years before the public has a chance to stop them from continuing to harm pollinators and/or people.

Besides participating in the public comment period, there are some actions you can take as an advocate. To find information on safe disinfectants, visit Beyond Pesticides’ webpage on Disinfectants and Sanitizers, including a factsheet on meeting health protection needs for school reopening as schools must have adequate resources to ensure safety. For pollinator protection, the Saving America’s Pollinators Act would provide pollinators with a real chance to recover from the stressors of pesticide exposure. The bill would eliminate neonicotinoids, other toxic systemics waiting in the wing with the chemical industry, and establish a board of experts to protect pollinator health into the future. Take action today by urging your member of Congress to support this important legislation. 

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: NYU Midnight Watch

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  • Archives

  • Categories

    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (20)
    • Antimicrobial (6)
    • Aquaculture (25)
    • Aquatic Organisms (18)
    • Bats (2)
    • Beneficials (38)
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    • Fertilizer (6)
    • fish (5)
    • Forestry (2)
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