- (ENN) -- The Environmental Protection Agency's ban on
one pesticide and restricted use of another for fruits and vegetables does
little to address the link between pesticides and youth violence, according
to a university researcher.
- "A rapidly expanding body of research shows that
heavy metals such as lead and pesticides decrease mental ability and increase
aggressiveness," Robert Hatherill, a researcher at the University
of California, Santa Barbara, wrote in an editorial for the Chicago Tribune.
- On August 2, EPA banned the use of methyl parathion and
restricted the use of azinphos methyl for fruits and vegetables because
the pesticides can damage the brain and nervous system. Young children
are especially susceptible.
- While environmental groups applaud this step, they say
it does not go far enough to address the threats pesticides pose to youth.
Environmental groups filed suit August 3 to force the agency to comply
with the Food Quality Protection Act, which requires the agency to consider
the risk pesticides pose to children.
- Under the act, August 3 was the deadline for the agency
to implement a program to screen and test 3,200 pesticides to determine
their risk to children under the act. The lawsuit alleges the agency has
only issued a timeline for implementation.
- "Our actions today will protect children from the
adverse effects of exposure to pesticides commonly used on foods,"
said Carol Browner, the EPA administrator. "The agency also is on
schedule to meet all deadlines for ensuring safer pesticides use under
the new Food Quality Protection Act."
- Pesticide use has increased 33-fold since 1942.
- Green groups beg to differ. "EPA actions up to now
have reduced the risk from only two out of the 125 riskiest pesticide uses
on food, and have actually allowed more risk in seven cases. This is a
pathetic record," said Edward Groth, a policy director at Consumers
Union, one of the groups that filed suit.
- According to Hatherill, pesticide use has increased 33-fold
since 1942 and since children eat, drink and breathe more pesticides pound
per pound than adults, they are at high risk to health impairments.
- "Recent studies show that trace levels of multiple
pesticides cause increased aggression. Trace pesticide mixtures have induced
abnormal thyroid hormone levels, which are associated with irritability,
aggression and multiple chemical sensitivity," he wrote.
- Hatherill believes that the increased use of pesticides
in combination with a diet of low-fiber, processed foods has led to high
levels of pesticides in children and may be the root cause of the trend
of youth violence in the United States.
- "Rather than directing all our attention to bitter
debates on gun control and the violence in the entertainment industry,
let's also consider the pressing need for a cleaner environment and more
nutritious food," concluded Hatherill.
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