A Tale of Two Neurotoxins

This report, “A Tale of Two Neurotoxins,” is about lead and a pesticide called chlorpyrifos. Both chemicals damage the developing brains of young children, with permanent impacts on IQ and behavior. Yet the way the Environmental Protection Agency handled lead in the early 1970s and the way the agency is handling chlorpyrifos today are starkly different. With lead, the EPA followed the precautionary mission of America’s then-young environmental laws, fought a tough legal battle with regulated industry, and won. As a result, the amount of lead in children’s blood dropped dramatically. With chlorpyrifos, the EPA under the Trump Administration is going in the opposite direction. Instead of protecting children’s health, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is protecting Dow Chemical by allowing this dangerous pesticide to continue to be sprayed in farm fields, despite strong evidence that it puts public health at risk. In doing so, Pruitt is ignoring his own agency, the scientific community, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and countless concerned parents. He is also ignoring EPA’s mission.