A recent study conducted by EWG, published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, sheds light on the prevalence of chlormequat, a relatively obscure pesticide, in the bodies of individuals in the United States. The study, which examined urine samples from 96 participants between 2017 and 2023, discovered chlormequat in the urine of 77 individuals, indicating a concerning 80 percent detection rate.

Of particular concern is the increase in both the levels and frequency of chlormequat detection in samples from 2023 compared to previous years, suggesting a potential rise in consumer exposure to this chemical.

Moreover, the study revealed alarming findings regarding chlormequat contamination in food products. In May 2023, chlormequat was detected in 92 percent of oat-based foods tested, including popular brands like Quaker Oats and Cheerios. This widespread exposure raises significant concerns about the possible health impacts, as animal studies have linked chlormequat to reproductive and developmental issues.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations restrict the use of chlormequat to ornamental plants in the U.S., its presence in imported oats and other foods is permitted, contributing to the exposure of American consumers. Regulatory changes under the Trump administration, including the approval of chlormequat on imported oats in 2018 and subsequent increases in allowable levels in 2020, may have contributed to the higher detections observed in the study.

The study’s findings underscore the widespread exposure to chlormequat among the U.S. population, with higher concentrations detected in recent years. Additionally, the analysis of food samples highlighted the pervasiveness of chlormequat contamination in oat-based products, further emphasizing the urgent need for regulatory action to mitigate potential health risks associated with this pesticide.

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