Trump's pick for EPA pollution czar says kids are less sensitive to pollution than adults

The Intercept's Sharon Lerner is the best journalist on Trumpian science appointees going, and her piece on Michael Dourson, whom Trump wants confirmed as the EPA's second most powerful executive as Director of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention is a scorcher.

Even by Trumpian standards, Dourson is a piece of shit work. He currently runs the high-profile greenwashing consultancy Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) whose clients are a rogue's gallery of the country's most lethal polluters: Dow Chemical, CropLife America, the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries and more.

TERA's stock in trade is manufactured sciencey numbers showing that pollution isn't harmful. In that regard, TERA excels, routinely asserting the harmlessness of industrial waste products that every independent researcher considers dangerous and/or deadly.

For example, Dourson asserted that the pesticide chlorpyrifos was safe at concentrations 5,000 times higher than the EPA recommended dose, despite well-documented causal links between the substance and "memory, intelligence, attention, and motor problems in children." Dourson also asserted that children over six months old are less susceptible to toxic chemicals, despite the widespread, experimentally verified consensus that children are more susceptible — something that has been verified through ghastly industrial accidents through the ages.

Dourson's rap sheet goes on for pages (you should read Lerner's piece), but here's the kicker: in his new job, he'll be in charge of deciding which industrial pollutants are safe, and at which concentrations. He is not a fox in the henhouse, he's a serial killer in the nursery.

In these dark Trumpian times, it's easy to get inured to the callous disregard for evidence, decency, safety, and humanity on display in Washington, but Trump's ability to find extremely vicious gators to fill the DC swamp with always manages to shock.

After reversing the proposed ban, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently delayed the evaluation of both chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates, the chemical class to which it belongs, which had been scheduled to begin in 2017. Dourson would have input on the timing of those evaluations, as well as the research considered in them. About two dozen organophosphate pesticides are commercially available, all of which are neurotoxins.

Environmental scientists have long recognized that children are especially vulnerable to chemicals, including organophosphates, throughout their development. But in a 2002 paper paid for by the American Chemistry Council and the pesticide industry group CropLife America, Dourson suggested that after six months, most children are no more sensitive to chemical toxicity than adults and that in some cases, they are even less sensitive. This idea places him well outside the scientific mainstream and suggests how he might approach not just these pesticides but all chemicals affecting children.


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