OIG probe finds EPA broke the rules in pesticide cancer evaluation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not properly conduct the cancer risk for a widely used pesticide in a manner that could jeopardize human health, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said in a report issued this week.

In its July 20 report, the OIG cited a number of problems with how the EPA evaluated the cancer risk of the soil fumigant 1,3-Dichloropropene, (1,3-D). Among other problems, the EPA did not adhere to standard operating procedures and federal requirements in doing the assessment, the OIG found.

“These departures from established standards during the cancer assessment for 1,3-D undermine the EPA’s credibility, as well as public confidence in and the transparency of the Agency’s scientific approaches, in its efforts to prevent unreasonable impacts on human health,” the OIG said of the EPA.

1,3-D is one of the top three soil fumigants used in the United States. From 2014 through 2018, an average of approximately 37 million pounds of 1,3-D were applied to an average of 300,000 acres of agricultural crops annually.

The OIG probe came after the EPA changed the cancer classification in 2019 in a way that essentially downgraded the cancer risk and allowed for vastly increased exposures.