EPA accused of corruption in huge scandal over pesticide test results

Washington DC - The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been accused of sharing false pesticide test results with the public.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for releasing apparently misleading findings about the presence of harmful chemicals in pesticides.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for releasing apparently misleading findings about the presence of harmful chemicals in pesticides.  © STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP

Last May, the EPA issued a press release claiming that 10 pesticide products it tested contained no perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), contradicting a study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials by former EPA researcher Steven Lasee.

PFAS are long-lasting chemicals linked with various harmful health impacts in humans and animals.

The NGO Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) on Tuesday accused the agency of lying about its results after a Freedom of Information Act request revealed PFAS has been found in the tested products.

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"It’s pretty outrageous. You don’t get to just ignore the stuff that doesn’t support your hypothesis," PEER's director of scientific policy Dr. Kyla Bennett said, according to The Guardian.

"That is not science. That is corruption. I can only think that they were getting pressure from pesticide companies."

EPA accused of releasing misleading pesticide test results

A farmer spreads pesticide on a field in Centreville, Maryland.
A farmer spreads pesticide on a field in Centreville, Maryland.  © JIM WATSON / AFP

Lasee's November 2022 study found perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) – a type of PFAS – in six out of 10 insecticides used to grow cotton and other crops.

The EPA said it did not detect PFOS or any other PFAS chemicals in the pesticide samples, but now Lasee is calling the agency's scientific methods into question.

Also concerning is the fact that the EPA only released the results of two of its tests, although the agency had conducted four tests. One of the analyses did show the presence of PFOS in the samples.

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Lasee had retracted his study after the EPA released its partial test results and he was unable to reproduce his own findings.

Now, he and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility are seeking a retraction of the May 2023 EPA memo.

Cover photo: STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP

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