The landmark Food Quality Protection Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to protect children’s health by applying an extra margin of safety to legal limits for pesticides in food.
But an investigation by EWG, published this week in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, found that the EPA has failed to add the mandated children’s health safety factor to the allowable limits for almost 90 percent of the most common pesticides.
The study in Environmental Health examined the EPA’s risk assessments for 47 non-organophosphate pesticides since 2011, including those most commonly found on fresh fruits and vegetables, and found that the required additional tenfold safety factor was applied in only five cases.
“Given the potential health hazards of pesticides in our food, it is disturbing that the EPA has largely ignored the law’s requirement to ensure adequate protection for children,” said the study’s author, Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG. “The added safety factor is essential to protect children from pesticides that can cause harm to the nervous system, hormonal disruption and cancer.”
The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, or FQPA, requires the EPA to set allowable levels for pesticides in a way that would “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue.” It was hailed as a revolutionary recognition of the fact that children are more vulnerable to the effects of chemical pesticides than adults.
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