The Environmental Protection Agency used a loophole to approve 65% of pesticides--roughly 10,000 chemicals in all--despite little or no testing data in support of their safety, according to a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Pesticides are used not only on farm fields, but to treat crops after harvest, and they are increasingly used in consumer products to lengthen shelf life or add antibacterial properties to soaps and the like.
Consumers may have assumed that pesticides permitted for use had passed testing requirements designed to protect human health and the environment. After all, since Rachel Caron published Silent Spring a half century ago, there has been widespread concern about unintended effects from overuse of pesticides. There is an ongoing effort, often led by environmental groups arguing in court and through complex government regulatory processes, to stop the use of harmful pesticides that have long been on the market, but the new study suggests there's reason to doubt the safety of even some chemicals approved for use recently.
Risks from pesticides are varied. Recently, concerns have grown about one class of pesticides for their potential contribution to widespread honeybee deaths. Other pesticides have been implicated in bird deaths. On humans, concerns from various pesticides differ, but exposure to some has been linked to everything from neurological disorders to endocrine disruption.
Reacting to the report in USA Today, the EPA said it hadn't yet reviewed the new study.
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