Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants

Op-Ed: EPA scientists said ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Scott Pruitt said no
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Interview With Author Dr. Carl F. Cranor

Other chemical compounds such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers PBDEs are less well-known despite scientific concerns over their long-term impact on humans, especially children. Given that many industrial contaminants can enter our bodies through the air, skin contact, or ingestion through contaminated fish, for example without our knowing it, it is extremely difficult to limit exposure to many toxicants even if an individual wanted to do so.

The third chapter takes the reader through the tools available to identify and estimate the risks to humans from toxicants. Cranor discusses the pros and cons of testing on humans, including case reports, randomized clinical trials, and epidemiological studies. He then goes on to discuss the efficacy of experimental animal studies, including what exactly we can learn about the effect of chemical exposure on humans from tests on animals. The impact of toxicants on the unborn and young children discussed in detail in Chapter 4 , leads Cranor to advocate for a change in the current legal regime with respect to industrial chemicals, pesticides, and other commercial pollutants.

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In Chapter 5 Cranor details the status quo. Currently, 80 to 90 percent of commercial chemical products are not tested for toxicity before entering the market.

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Most of this chapter deals with administrative or regulatory law, which can be either pre-market think Food and Drug Adminstration FDA or post-market think Consumer Product Safety Commission. Another possible approach to regulation is through criminal or tort law. Cranor spends no time on criminal law and some time on tort law, but the majority of the chapter focuses on why post-market science as currently practiced primarily through regulatory law is inadequate to protect the public.

Cranor develops his preferred approach to reducing exposure to toxic chemicals in Chapter 6. Consisting primarily of pre-market testing and licensing laws, his approach is similar to current U. After detailing some shortcomings of the REACH approach and how it might be improved upon, Cranor finishes the book by making the normative case for a pre-market testing regime in Chapter 7.

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Perhaps this is true, but the case for post-market testing versus pre-market testing should be, in my opinion, based on comparative institutional analysis. That is, what are the relative costs and benefits of the different institutional regimes? Unfortunately, Cranor does not provide a compelling discussion of the trade-offs between the two regimes. Consider his discussion of whether we would lose valuable products under a post-market testing regime. In this three-page discussion pp.

Recall that he uses the example of FDA testing of pharmaceuticals in building the case for post-market testing of toxicants.

Legally Poisoned

Those working or playing in these areas come into direct contact with the pesticide. Washing produce with water modestly reduces residues; adding vinegar to the water is more effective. When the pesticide is sprayed, it typically drifts to nearby areas — as demonstrated in the Bakersfield incident — contaminating streams, rivers, drinking water and people.

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Some advocates — usually companies that create and use industrial chemical and their sympathizers—seem to believe that the current postmarket system for protecting the public is just fine. The legal process for identifying adverse health effects and removing the responsible substances from the marketplace is extremely slow, he says. Some of his graduate level seminars include justice, philosophy of tort law, ideas of acceptable risk and more. Related Stories. As a scholar interested in law and economics, I was very interested in reading about the case for a legal regime change with respect to environmental toxins. Another possible approach to regulation is through criminal or tort law. Reyes, Jessica.

The health problems associated with chlorpyrifos are varied. It is an endocrine disrupter, which means it could be implicated in breast cancer , and it may also double the risk of lung cancer.

Legally Poisoned – The Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants

It is also one of 12 well-understood and carefully studied neurotoxicants that can adversely affect brain development. That means it puts children at special risk. In utero exposures and early life exposures are particularly worrisome because our brains have only one chance to get it right. If brain development is disrupted, the result can be greater or lesser lifelong deficits and dysfunctions.

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Children are generally more susceptible to adverse effects from toxic substances. An exposure that might not harm an adult will harm a child because of his or her smaller size. In utero, the fetus is vulnerable as its organ systems develop from a few cells to millions of cells. And children have lesser defenses because several protective mechanisms are not as well developed as in adults.

A UC Berkeley study of mothers and children in Salinas identified poorer intellectual development in children resulting from high in utero exposures to chlorpyrifos, including a seven-point drop in IQ, poorer working memory, verbal comprehension and perceptual reasoning by age 7.

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Did he not respect the process, the data? Anything less and the products can remain on the market.

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But that is a choice, one that does not serve the public. Good, highly certain evidence from independent scientists and EPA scientists shows that chlorpyrifos is toxic to people and puts them at risk for serious health effects. Carl F. Cranor is a philosophy professor at UC Riverside, specializing in moral choices at the intersection of law and environmental dangers. Follow the Opinion section on Twitter latimesopinion and Facebook.

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