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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) held a series of three webinars dedicated to the health and environmental impacts of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide widely used across Europe and of which residues are regularly found in our food.

Numerous independent scientific studies have long pointed to the damage chlorpyrifos can do to human health, especially for children This webinar series was designed to equip public health advocates in their efforts to make decision-makers aware of the harmful impacts of chlorpyrifos’ continued use in European farming practices and scrutinise the upcoming decision-making process around its potential reauthorisation.

The series zoomed in on the most recent scientific evidence supporting the neurodevelopmental effects of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl, which include links to  autism, thyroid hormone disruption and impacts on children’s brain development.

Webinar 1: Urgent evaluation of links between chlorpyrifos and autism development needed (14 May 2019)

Dr. Katherine Pelch, Senior Scientist, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange

The study “Environmental Chemicals and Autism: A Scoping Review of the Human and Animal Research” is a systematic review of available scientific literature about the association between developmental exposure to environmental chemicals during pregnancy and the development of autism. Co-author Dr. Katherine Pelch explains how this study singles out chlorpyrifos as a chemical of concern and makes a plea for further investigation into associations between early life exposure to chlorpyrifos and the criteria for autism diagnosis in children.

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Webinar 2: New evidence on the endocrine disrupting properties of chlorpyrifos (29 May 2019)

Vincent Laudet – Director of the Observatoire océanologique de Banyuls-sur-mer – Pierre and Marie Curie University

The study “Fish larval recruitment to reefs is a thyroid hormone-mediated metamorphosis sensitive to the pesticide chlorpyrifos” from a French research team introduces us to the wonders of metamorphosis of a coral-reef fish, from larvae to juvenile form. Vincent Laudet, one of the study authors, presents the process in which the research team identified the hormone-controlled mechanism ruling this metamorphosis, and the ability of chlorpyrifos to disrupt this mechanism. The study provides yet additional evidence of the endocrine disrupting properties of chlorpyrifos.

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Webinar 3: Lessons learned from the approval of chlorpyrifos (12 June 2019)

Dr. Axel Mie, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm and Dr. Christina Rudén, Stockholm University

In their study “Safety of Safety Evaluation of Pesticides: developmental neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl”, Axel Mie, Christina Rudén and Philippe Grandjean review the two main industry-funded studies on developmental neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl. These industry-funded studies have played a central role in the previous market approval of chlorpyrifos in Europe. 

Their review rebuts the conclusions of the industry studies on the absence of neurodevelopmental effects of both substances, identifying many failures, shortcomings and inadequate interpretation of raw data. It also uses this case study to discuss some aspects of the current pesticide approval procedures and possible health-protective ways forward.

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