Scientists Concerned About Pesticides

Two of the pesticides that are registered for use in Colorado were singled out for special concern in a letter a group of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists wrote in May to the EPA administrator. The EPA recommended that these pesticides, chlorpiryfos and malathion, remain in use.

The language is a bit hard to follow with scientific-ese, but bear with it:

EPA cannot yet ensure that fetuses, infants, and children will not suffer developmental neroutoxicity from exposure to neurotoxic pesticides…

EPA has data demonstrating that the immature are more sensitive to the…pesticide malathion than adults…

EPA has also received, but has not released for review…data suggestive of direct effects of malathion on brain structure concurrent with cholinesterase inhibition.”

In addition, wrote the scientists,

“Not all scientists are in agreement with EPA that developmental effects of…chlorpyrifos occur only at doses above which cause cholinesterase inhibition, or even that they occur exclusively through the mechanism of cholinesterase inhibition.”

I know, I know, you’re asking what “cholinesterase inhibition” is. A layperson’s explanation can be found here. Simply put, cholinesterase is an enzyme in the blood that we all need. When people are exposed to organophosphate or carbamate pesticides, this enzyme can be inhibited. This can cause the build up of another chemical in the body that causes jerky muscle movements.

[crossposted at]