In the world of pesticides, the word “synergy” refers to the interaction that occurs between chemicals when they’re mixed together to make pesticides (and herbicides). This interaction, or synergy, can actually make individual chemicals more toxic than they are on their own.
Surely the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency takes this into account when it assesses “safe levels” of these chemicals, right? Wrong, says a new study by the Center for Biological Diversity.
From the study:
Although pesticide mixtures in the environment have been extensively documented, the Environmental Protection Agency generally only assesses the toxicity of pesticides individually, in isolation from potential real-life scenarios where these pesticides may interact with other chemicals.
More than 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the U.S. each year, according to the study. Those pesticides are sprayed on agricultural fields and orchards, residential lawns, playgrounds and parks. And evidence suggests that, contrary to what the EPA claims, most of those pesticides are made from chemicals that are unsafe at any levels, because they are hormone disruptors.
The least the EPA can do assess chemicals in their “real-life” scenarios—which means looking at how much more toxic a chemical is when mixed with others. Until then? All we can do is avoid anything—parks, yards and foods—that may be sprayed with pesticides.