New Report Cites Deficiency in Measuring Toxicity of Pesticide Interactions

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The University of California, Los Angeles published a new report that reveals a major flaw in California’s approach to evaluating pesticide use. The problem is that regulators continue to assess pesticide safety one product at a time, even though growers often apply pesticide mixtures that contain multiple products.

Authors of the report say that’s a serious problem because pesticide interactions can dramatically increase toxic effects, greatly enhancing the risk of cancer and other serious health conditions. People who live, work, and go to school near these fields are exposed to several fumigants at once, despite growing evidence that these chemical interactions pose even greater health risks.

The federal EPA and California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) have not adequately dealt with interactive effects,” says John Froines, a coauthor of the report and a chemist with decades of experience assessing health risks of toxic chemicals as a scientist and regulator. “People are exposed to a large number of chemicals. You can’t simply look chemical by chemical to adequately address the toxicity of these compounds.”

Regulators must consider synergistic effects of pesticides in risk assessments, the authors say. They contend that a California law requires state agencies to consider cumulative impacts and that interactive effects from pesticides fall under that law. They urge state officials to make several changes to pesticide regulations to uphold their mission to protect public health.

Read the article.

Jeff Vanuga / Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service., via Wikimedia Commons