August 26 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency sometimes gets it really, really wrong. In the name of protection, the EPA implements policies that actually harm some of society's most vulnerable, the urban poor. You may have heard disgusting reports about the rise of bed bug infestations in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, and other places across the country. (When the reporter starts to mention it, I usually switch the radio station and say a quick prayer that I'm never confronted with the problem!) These infestations - the biggest since WWII - are completely preventable, but the EPA has banned effective household cleaners that would eradicate the problem. Then a member of the Clinton Administration, Obama's Climate Czar Carol Browner oversaw the ban of bug-killer Dursban in 2000, touting corrupt science and ignoring experts.
Writing in The Michigan View, political commentator Henry Payne reveals,
But despite widespread protest in the scientific community, EPA Chief Carol Browner erased Dursban from the shelves. "EPA has gone to great lengths to present a highly conservative, worst case, hypothetical risk based in large part on dubious extrapolations . . . and exaggerated risk estimates," said Michigan State University toxicologist J. I. Goodman in a typical response.
Even Dr. Alan Hoberman, the principal researcher whose data Browner cited, told the Detroit News he disputed the agency's interpretation of his findings.
Such critics were also ignored by the press -- as was evidence that the nation's urban poor would be most vulnerable to a ban. Children insect-bite allergies and cockroach-induced allergens outnumber pesticide poisoning by 100:1. "Hardest hit will be lower-income families in cities like Detroit, who can ill afford a weekly house call from the Orkin man," warned News writer Diane Katz, now with the Fraser Institute. "Yet that is precisely what the EPA is recommending as a substitute for a couple squirts from a can of bug spray."
It just isn't reasonable to expect that poor families can pay the hundreds of dollars it costs to hire exterminators. In the name of protection, zealots promote a flawed agenda that actually harms poor Americans. We need to seriously re-evaluate the role that these supposed protectors play in helping or harming our society.