The Trump administration wants children to handle dangerous pesticides that could cause brain damage or cancer, in their latest move to target the vulnerable.
The Trump administration is working to expose underaged children to pesticides that could cause cancer or brain damage, in yet another initiative designed to hurt vulnerable Americans.
The Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) led by Scott Pruitt, who had repeatedly sued the agency prior to becoming its leader is considering rule changes in a departure from the Obama administration that would put children directly in the path of harm.
A 2015 rule increased safety requirements for farmworkers, which prohibit people under 18 years old from working with pesticides. The rules were put in place because doctors raised the alarm about the harm those chemicals could cause with children.
The EPA is also considering getting rid of a rule that currently stops minors from working with what are categorized as “restricted-use” pesticides like arsenic and methyl bromide. Those chemicals are not even sold to the public for general use due to their danger, but the Trump team appears to believe children should be around them.
Former EPA official William Jordan, who helped implement the child-safety rules under Obama, told HuffPost, “I think that theres a pretty strong likelihood that if the minimum age is eliminated or lowered, there will be more people getting sick.”
He added that with these sorts of chemicals, “a small amount like a teaspoon can kill you.”
In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a warning about these chemicals and children handling them, writing, “Many pesticides are highly toxic to the brain and reproductive system and will cause long-term damage to those systems.”
HuffPost notes that industry groups have been lobbying Congress to get rid of these rules, and that “one reason growers may want to remove the minimum age requirements is that teenagers often work for less money than older employees.”
Trump and his underlings have repeatedly cited getting rid of regulations (even fake ones) as one of the meager accomplishments he achieved in his first year in office, as they have been unable to cite any signature legislation beyond the recent billionaire tax cuts.
Exposing children to harm, particularly those likely to come from the lower economic brackets who would be working in the farming industry, is right in line with Trump’s previous despicable actions and priorities.
The administration did the dirty work of industry lobbying groups and significantly lessened the fines nursing homes would face for abusing elderly patients even if they die. And Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, moved to allow frackers to hide toxic chemicals used on public land.
The vulnerable are being targeted by Trump and his Republican allies, not as an unfortunate side effect, but as a direct result of the ideological and financial goals that they believe in above anything else.