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Sunday, March 18, 2018

The EPA is Closing an Office That Helps Keep Arsenic Out of Baby Food and Much More

From Forbes

By Eric Mack
February 27, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration and Scott Pruitt is not so concerned about the effects of chemical exposure on children.

Worker on a farm, along highway 1, wears a Tyvek chemical protective suit
as he works with a herbicide to spray weeds after the broccoli harvest.
Herbicides are used to eliminate weeds that are left in the field and
need to be eliminated before the next planting. 

At least that's the message sent by the news that the EPA will shutter the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), according a report by The Hill.

One of the main functions of NCER was to hand out grants and fellowships to scientists investigating the effects of chemical exposure on human health.

The EPA says that NCER staff will be retained and reassigned within the agency. It's not clear what will happen to the grant and fellowship programs that NCER has been administering for years.

President Trump's proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 would have dramatically slashed funding for NCER by more than 90 percent, but the most recent budget deal did not touch the program.

The report, in fact, does provide a few more specific examples:

"In 2016, a research project supported by a STAR grant recognized that infants could be exposed to arsenic through rice cereal (Karagas et al. 2016), and this recognition led the Food and Drug Administration to propose regulations to protect infant health (FDA 2016). Another example is the discovery by the University of Washington Children’s Center that farmworker children had increased exposure to the pesticide ingredient azinphos-methyl which is a neurotoxicant (Curl et al. 2002), which informed EPA’s decision to phase out the use of azinphos-methyl (2006)."

But the list goes on.

NCER programs also support prevention and/or treatment of childhood asthma, preterm births, leukemia, immune system disorders, neurodevelopment problems, autism spectrum disorder and obesity.

The EPA says the NCER will be eliminated as part of a merger of three EPA offices "to create management efficiencies within the organization."

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