Fifteen years ago, our eight-year-old daughter Katherine died of a preventable leukemia caused, we have every reason to believe, by mosquito spraying with chlorpyrifos, without permission or notification. Most parents cannot imagine what it is like to wake up and find their beloved child dead beside them. We have fought ever since to make sure fewer parents ever do.
If only we had known that this pernicious practice still existed — of broadcast spraying deadly pesticides down streets, in homes, coating every object and piece of vegetation — we would have stopped it. We did stop it, too late for Katherine. And mosquito spraying is only one route for exposure. We could work to help prevent children’s exposures today and tomorrow, exposures that often cause cancer, autism, ADHD, lower IQs, birth defects, and auto-immune disease. Pesticide exposures even contribute to the obesity epidemic. If we can reduce the average person’s exposure to tobacco smoke, with long-lasting health benefits for all, we could do the same thing for exposure to toxics.
Imagine, then, our feelings when we learned that President Trump has picked a chemical industry hired gun, Michael Dourson, to lead chemical safety at EPA. Dourson has worked for many years for chemical industry clients to downplay concerns about their products and advocate for looser standards. In Chicago, Koch Industries paid him to minimize the impact of the large petcoke piles in the neighborhood. On chlorpyrifos, the chemical we believe killed our daughter, Dourson has worked for industry interests to downplay concerns about the pesticide, which also harms children’s brain development—working for the chemicals producer to argue for a standard many times less protective than the EPA standard in place at the time and thousands of times less protective than the standard today.
He’s worked to downplay other cancer-causing chemicals like 1,4-Dioxane, PFOA and TCE. As many news outlets have now documented, when a chemical company was in trouble, they knew they could count on Dourson to help argue their way out.
He delivers results for the chemical companies, and our children suffer.
Who could possibly look at such a background and believe Dourson should be entrusted with the health of our children? Please contact your Senators and ask them to reject Michael Dourson for EPA this week.
Jean-Marie Kauth, PhD
Craig W. Colling, PhD