Trump White House Pushes to Let Minors Spray Brain-Damaging Pesticides on Farms
The White House's just-released list of planned environmental and public health rollbacks includes letting high-school-age kids spray brain-damaging pesticides on commercial farms.
The plan would drop the age of workers permitted to spray restricted-use pesticides on crops from 18 to 16. Minors would be allowed to apply dangerous chemicals such as chlorpyrifos, which U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists say can cause brain damage in children even in small doses.
The move, which would take effect next September, was first announced last year by Scott Pruitt, the former head of the EPA, who was forced in July to resign after a string of ethical scandals. In one of the first acts of the Trump administration, Pruitt aborted a scheduled ban of chlorpyrifos just weeks after meeting with the CEO of Dow, chlorpyrifos's manufacturer.
Pruitt's reversal of the ban was recently overturned by a federal appeals court. Under acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the EPA is fighting the court's order to ban the pesticide.
The minimum age rules were enacted by the Obama administration to protect minors who work on farms. Many of these teenagers are migrant workers who speak little English, making it harder to understand directions on how to apply pesticides safely. The rules were championed by physicians and farmworker-rights advocates, who led a multi-year effort to improve protections for farmworkers.
"Letting younger teenagers handle dangerous pesticides fits perfectly with the Trump administration's war on children's health protection," said EWG President Ken Cook. "There are other farm jobs they could do that don't involve strapping containers of dangerous chemicals on their backs that they will inhale and ingest. But this administration will let unscrupulous farm bosses risk these kids' health."
"Maybe the president should pick up a spray nozzle for a day and see what it's like walking through a plume of pesticide fumes," said Cook. "But the closest he gets to a farm is flying over them on the way to his golf resorts and MAGA rallies."
By Matthew Savoca
Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Andrea Germanos
Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.
By Jason Bittel
Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.