An Open Letter to President Trump
I’ll be honest, I didn’t vote for you. Before you stop reading, this is not a partisan issue, it is a human issue. There was one moment that I had an iota of hope that you would put previously industry disputed or under-represented logic to good use. It happened in early on, when it was announced that you resolved to create a panel to investigate the possible connection between autism and vaccines. While I am not anti-vaccine, any virologists who work in Level 3 or 4 labs can tell you of the detriment to the immune system from a large amount of vaccines as they must vaccinate against some of the worst illnesses known to humans as part of their work. So, Mr. Trump, I am open-minded that perhaps we over-vaccinate and that over-vaccination creates an undue body of burden within our immune system and may contribute not only to autism, but also other diseases later in life.
Due to this seeming openness to investigating the causes of autism, I had hope for you. For the past eight years I have worked on minimizing the worst pesticides used for pet flea and tick products, educating pet owners to make more educated decisions, and advocating for more transparency so that pet owners actually can research products and all their ingredients on their own. Pet pesticides cause death and long-term damage not only to tens of thousands of pets each year, but also to humans, especially children. Some of the worst pesticides, already restricted for home use, still find their way into intimate contact with toddlers, sometimes at levels 100 times higher than “acceptable” levels, on the backs of our pets.
This brings me to Scott Pruitt’s recent decision to blockade a ban ten years in the making of the highly neurotoxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, stating the science was controversial. Dow, the maker of chlorpyrifos, submitted some of their skewed studies (already deemed unethical) and a nice letter to Mr. Pruitt. Apparently that is all it took. However, this action is simply grave folly. Chlorpyrifos has been found in dangerously high levels in our food supply, up to 140 times higher than acceptable levels. To boil it down, that’s 14,000% higher for children in the 1 to 2 year age range.
The difference in the science of chlorpyrifos being a known neuro-intoxicant versus Dow’s unethical human studies finds its basis on several intense, ethical and long-term studies. One scanned the brains of children who had been exposed and this study showed, via MRI scans, that chlorpyrifos causes damage to the brain even with small exposure amounts. In an ongoing CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genes and Environment) study, there was a correlation between living within one mile of the use of agricultural pesticides, particularly chlorpyrifos, during pregnancy and an increase in autism. The use of a CHARGE study is important because it followed 970 real humans over the course of years. A significant number of women who were exposed to pesticides during pregnancy, especially chlorpyrifos, and they had a higher rate of autism and developmental delay in their children compared to pregnant women who were not exposed to pesticides.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate, but there is also evidence that carbamate and pyrethroid pesticides increase the risk of autism and other developmental delays in children. Do you know what all these have in common other than being used as agricultural pesticides? They are also used in pet flea and tick products. Pyrethroids are pervasive in that market and cause the most harm, partly due to this over-saturation. In the CHARGE study, mentioned above, timing of exposure was critical. In the second trimester, exposure to chlorpyrifos clearly showed a higher risk of children with autism while pyrethroid exposure just before conception and in the third trimester increased risk moderately and carbamate exposure also increased risk.
I have to say, Mr. Trump, when you symbolically lobbed a bunch of bombs at a Syrian airfield after you saw children hurt by chemical weapons, for a moment I thought, what about our own children? Might you take action to reign in this recklessness of Scott Pruitt if you saw the children damaged and hurt by exposure to these pesticides?
If you are pro-life, as you claim, then that interest in protecting life should carry through all stages of life, not just conception and pregnancy.
If you care for children, this is one action you can take that will protect many children and their futures.
If you need an economic reason to step in on this issue how’s this: The medical costs associated with developmental delay and autism will be saved on a large-scale, feeding into your planned health bill savings. Also, the cost to Medicare and Social Security, for all the children who will not need to receive governmental assistance also will bolster your plans. Dow will not lose money. They will only increase the sales of a different pesticide while shipping the chlorpyrifos off to an unsuspecting third world country as they do with all their endangered pesticide products. Oh, and don’t forget, Dow is part of Big Pharma and can always make money finding a solution for the autism they create. They will survive, but many children will not.
In closing, while the jury is still out, and may be out for a long time, on the veracity of whether vaccines increase autism risk, the jury is not out on the autism risk when exposure to this specific pesticide occurs.
Man up, Mr. Trump.
PANNA Pesticides, Pregnancy and Autism. Do We Know Enough?
Letter from over 45 scientists and health professionals supporting the EPA’s 2016 risk assessment
Letter from Tom Carper to Scott Pruitt
EPA Rejects Own Science to Greenlight Brain Damaging Pesticide
PANNA: Case Against Brain Harming Pesticides Grow
NIEHS NIH Study
NPR – Despite the Facts, Trump Once Again Embraces Vaccine Skeptics