EPA scientists say they’re being pressured on pesticide studies

U.S. EPA managers and pesticide-industry officials have been pressuring agency scientists to skip steps in pesticide testing and allow continued use of some potentially harmful pesticides, says a letter sent to EPA chief Stephen Johnson by union leaders representing agency employees. The “integrity of the science upon which agency decisions are based has been compromised,” the unions wrote, recommending that Johnson tighten restrictions on some pesticides until questions are settled. At issue are acceptable residue levels of 20 organophosphate and carbamate pesticides, used everywhere from flea collars to golf courses to farms. The EPA lacks a standard procedure for testing the toxicity of some pesticides to developing nervous systems, according to the EPA’s Office of Inspector General; studies have indicated that certain pesticides can disrupt the development of nervous systems in young kids.