Environment

EPA Accused of Suppressing Evidence of PFAS in Pesticides

A whistleblower has alleged that the Environmental Protection Agency deliberately suppressed and manipulated data showing the presence of PFAS “forever chemicals” in pesticides. The allegations, if true, point to a shocking betrayal of the public trust and a potential public health crisis.

Rhode Island News: EPA Accused of Suppressing Evidence of PFAS in Pesticides

May 29, 2024, 11:50 am

By Uprise RI Staff

In a scathing letter sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, a whistleblower has accused the agency of deliberately suppressing and manipulating evidence showing the presence of toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” in commonly used pesticides. The allegations, if substantiated, point to a shocking betrayal of public trust that may have put the health of millions of Americans at risk.

The whistleblower, Dr. Steven Lasee, worked as a research fellow at an EPA lab from 2021 to 2023. In November 2022, Dr. Lasee co-published a study revealing significant levels of PFOS, a type of PFAS chemical, in 6 out of 10 pesticides tested. PFAS are dubbed “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down and can accumulate in the environment and human body over time. Exposure has been linked to cancer, hormonal disruptions, and other severe health problems.

According to the letter, when the EPA decided to verify Dr. Lasee’s findings, agency officials assured him that details like brand names of the pesticides tested would be kept confidential. Dr. Lasee provided pesticide samples to the EPA in January 2023, after spiking them with a small known quantity of PFOS – a standard scientific practice to validate testing methods.

However, the EPA reported in February that their initial tests found no PFAS in the samples. Even after being informed about the spiked samples, subsequent EPA testing in March again found no detectable PFAS. The agency then released a memo in May 2023 stating they were unable to replicate Dr. Lasee’s results, along with a press release touting the EPA’s commitment to managing PFAS in pesticides. Crucially, the EPA disclosed the previously confidential brand names of the tested pesticides.

The whistleblower complaint alleges that the EPA knowingly made “false statements” in their public memo and engaged in “egregious misconduct” in violation of the agency’s scientific integrity policies. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that some EPA tests actually did find notable PFAS levels in the pesticides, directly contradicting the agency’s public statements.

Additionally, the EPA allegedly cherry-picked data, purposely omitting results like Dr. Lasee’s contaminant-free control samples which would have supported his original study. The agency is also accused of lacking sufficient sample volumes to conduct the claimed tests and failing to address their own instruments’ background contamination issues.

These allegations paint a picture of the EPA not just failing to properly investigate a critical public health issue, but actively seeking to discredit and bury evidence of a potential crisis. The agency’s alleged conduct represents an astonishing violation of scientific ethics and public trust.

The presence of PFAS in pesticides, whether from active ingredients, accidental contamination, or unknown sources, exposes the public to these hazardous chemicals via food and environmental contamination. Rather than proactively alerting and protecting the public, the EPA appears to have prioritized saving face over sound science.