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Watchdog group accuses EPA of 'outrageous' failure on serious toxin: 'You don't get to just ignore the stuff that doesn't support your hypothesis'

"That is not science. That is corruption."

"That is not science. That is corruption."

Photo Credit: iStock

One watchdog group is accusing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of presenting false information to the public about the testing of harmful "forever chemicals" in pesticides, the Guardian reported.

What's happened?

The nonprofit group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, along with former EPA employees, is alleging that the agency incorrectly reported test results concerning per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in pesticides.

According to the Guardian, a May 2023 press release from the EPA stated that the agency found no PFAS in samples of insecticide products, which was in direct disagreement with a previous study from a former EPA researcher.

Further, PEER alleged that the agency did find PFAS in the tested products, according to data it obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request.

The EPA declined to comment, per the Guardian, while the author of the original study, Steven Lasee, accused the agency of cherry-picking data.

"It's pretty outrageous," PEER director of scientific policy Kyla Bennett told the publication. "You don't get to just ignore the stuff that doesn't support your hypothesis. That is not science. That is corruption. I can only think that they were getting pressure from pesticide companies."

Why are these allegations concerning?

Some types of PFAS have been linked to cancer, damage to the immune system, birth defects, delayed development in children, and other health problems. 

Because these "forever chemicals" break down slowly over time, they tend to persist in the environment and have been found in the blood of humans and other animals, as well as in water, soil, and air.

For instance, one study found that PFAS are abundant in the Great Lakes Basin, which holds 95% of the country's fresh water. Another study uncovered the use of these chemicals in food packaging worldwide. 

What's being done about PFAS?

Regarding the latest controversy with the EPA, PEER has submitted a letter demanding the agency correct its public statement and retract its research memo on the matter.

The EPA had previously taken numerous actions on PFAS contamination, the Guardian reported, finalizing drinking-water limits for this group of chemicals and ordering a prominent manufacturer to stop using them.

While there is no way to completely escape PFAS, you can take steps to reduce your exposure.

For instance, research suggests that people who cook at home have less exposure to PFAS, as food packaging from takeaway containers contains these chemicals. When you eat out, you can reduce your risk by bringing your own storage containers, which is also better for the environment. You can also protect yourself by transferring your food out of any takeaway container as soon as possible.

PFAS are found in higher amounts in people who eat microwave popcorn, so popping your own is a safer alternative. You can further protect yourself by prioritizing brands that are PFAS-free.

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