school bus

More than 5,000 U.S. schools are located within 200 feet of agricultural fields that could soon be sprayed with a potent and potentially harmful new agricultural herbicide that includes 2,4-D, an ingredient in Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War.

Called Enlist Duo, the EPA is expected to approve Dow AgroScience’s weed killer, which is designed for use on genetically modified crops and “superweeds” that have developed resistance to applications of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide, better known as Roundup.

The Environmental Working Group has created a comprehensive map highlighting the areas where schools will be exposed to Enlist Duo if it receives EPA approval. “[H]undreds of thousands of children across the country will be at risk of increased exposure to the harmful chemical compound 2,4-D,” the group wrote on its website. “In its assessment, the EPA called for a 200-foot buffer zone to protect non-weed plants from [Enlist Duo] but glosses over the health risks to children.”

More than half a million public comments were submitted to the EPA before it closed its comment period earlier this week. A letter from 35 doctors and scientists was also submitted and focused on the serious human health risks, which the group says the EPA has ignored, particularly in regards to the children in rural areas near where the herbicide will be sprayed.

TIME magazine reports that compounds in Enlist Duo have been linked to “harmful health effects, including immune and reproductive issues as well as certain cancers and Parkinson’s disease.” And the EWG says the EPA failed in its analysis to consider the risks, particularly when Enlist Duo is inhaled.

The EPA says that it has confirmed the safety of Enlist Duo.

“Even if 2,4-D doesn’t travel more than 200 feet from a field where it’s used, Enlist Duo would put thousands of rural school children at risk,” says EWG. “That’s not a trivial matter. “

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on Organic Authority

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Agent Orange 2.0? Why Won’t The EPA Ban Toxic 2,4-D?

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Image: howard county library system