Pesticide Studies Won E.P.A.’s Trust, Until Trump’s Team Scorned ‘Secret Science’

Pesticide Studies Won E.P.A.’s Trust, Until Trump’s Team Scorned ‘Secret Science’

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A month after taking over the E.P.A., Mr. Pruitt acted. He disregarded agency scientists and rejected the proposed chlorpyrifos ban, later calling for “a new day, a new future, for a common-sense approach to environmental protection.”

View From the Field

Ana Lilia Sanchez, 50, has worked in the fields in Salinas more than half her life, and one of her daughters has been a Chamacos study participant.

Ms. Sanchez has learned to watch for drifting droplets or the whir of a helicopter spraying overhead.

“Sometimes when we feel it, or we hear it, we start talking about it,” she said recently, sitting with her 5-month-old granddaughter at her home on a Salinas cul-de-sac. “Why wouldn’t they tell us, you know, to get out of here, to not come today?” she asked. “Women, they cover themselves, but men are working in short sleeves, so they are more exposed.”

Insecticides like chlorpyrifos are organophosphates, from the same chemical family as nerve agents like sarin and Novichok, the Russian-developed compound linked to recent attacks in Britain. While the safety of insecticides is extensively tested, long-term health impacts, or even how far pesticides drift, are the subject of continuing disagreement.

Ms. Sanchez showers after work, before touching her granddaughter.

“I also put my clothes aside,” she said. “We separate the clothes we use when we’re working, both my husband and I, and wash them separately so they’re not contaminated.”

While some human studies examine potential harm from pesticide residue found on fruits and vegetables, the Chamacos project is more personal, following hundreds of children in the heart of where American food is grown. California has the nation’s largest agricultural industry and uses more than 200 million pounds of pesticides annually.

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