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Science backlash after EPA to add totally inert argon to list of banned pesticide ingredients


(NaturalNews) The scientific community is in an uproar after it was learned that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to ban an inert gas, one that occurs naturally in the air we breathe, from being used in pesticide formulas.

According to the agency, the natural element argon is considered a "hazardous" substance and should no longer be on the approved list of inert ingredients. Since it isn't used anymore anyway, claims the EPA, argon is best removed until it can be proven safe through an official review application.

"Once an inert ingredient is removed from the list, any proposed future use of the inert ingredient would need to be supported by data provided to and reviewed by the EPA as part of a new inert ingredient submission request," stated the agency in its proposal.

According to reports, the EPA issued the proposal after California Attorney General (AG) Kamala Harris and representatives from two environmental groups petitioned for 371 inert pesticide ingredients to be removed. Citing alleged hazards, the petition, which was filed in 2006, called for the ingredients to be declared "hazardous."

In response, EPA Assistant Administrator James Jones wrote a letter back on May 22 indicating that his agency would investigate the claims and make an assessment. After scrubbing nearly 300 of the inert ingredients from the list, the EPA whittled it's list down to 72 inert ingredients, including argon, none of which are currently in use.

If argon isn't hazardous, why is it being banned?

When news of the EPA's proposed action went viral, scientists, academics, doctors and others began to rail the agency for even suggesting that argon be banned. A professor of chemistry from the University of Nebraska, for instance, posted a comment on the EPA's website urging the agency to take a closer look at the issue.

"Removal of argon, the quintessential common inert gas, from the approved inert ingredients list, is likely to result in ridicule for the EPA," he wrote. "Government science agencies have a poor enough reputation already. Please don't make it worse!"

Others are questioning the scientific approach used by the EPA to conclude that argon is hazardous. One commenter emphasized that argon is "totally inert," and that no compounds created with it can even survive at room temperature.

"I think someone at the EPA must have previously consumed too much of some banned substance -- as this makes absolutely no sense!" he added.

You can view the EPA proposal and leave your own comments by visiting Regulations.gov.

EPA failed to evaluate 299 other "inert" ingredients still in use by chemical industry

As concerning as it is that the EPA would suggest that the third most abundant gas in the atmosphere be "banned," the real question is why didn't the EPA evaluate the other 299 "inert" ingredients proposed by California's AG? The answer is that all of these ingredients are currently in use by pesticide companies.

You see, the only thing that the EPA did was "ban" the 72 ingredients that nobody is using, while leaving all the others alone. The agency didn't actually do any investigating into which chemicals are harmful and which are safe. This is why argon was put on the chopping block even though it isn't actually dangerous -- banning it doesn't threaten the chemical industry's bottom line.

"The truth is: Most 'inerts' are not inert," explains the group Project Censored, highlighting this point. "They are biologically, chemically, and toxicologically active. Many inerts are in fact more toxic than the active ingredients."

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