Trump’s border policies aren’t the only ones ‘cruel’ and ‘toxic ‘ to children

His toxic EPA policies will mean more kids with brain damage and asthma attacks.

Viral photo of two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker crying as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. CREDIT: John Moore/Getty Images
Viral photo of two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker crying as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. CREDIT: John Moore/Getty Images

President Trump has rightfully been slammed across the political spectrum for his policy of ripping young children away from their mothers and fathers at the border — and then putting them in cages, tent cities, and warehouses.

On Monday, Dr. Colleen Kraft, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN that Trump’s policies “amount to child abuse.” She explained that the policies cause “toxic stress” in children, which “disrupts their brain architecture and keeps them from developing language and social, emotional bonds, and gross motor skills.”

But this “cruel” and “immoral” policy, as former First Lady Laura Bush described it, is part of a larger pattern. So many of the president’s policies, especially those of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are cruel, harmful, and indeed literally toxic to American families and their children.

Consider EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to reject a ban on the  organophospate pesticide chlorpyrifos, which paralyzes the nervous system of insects — and which has been linked directly to fetal brain damage.

As a December journal article in PLOS Biology explains, organophosphates “were first developed as human nerve gas agents during World War II.” Countless studies find that “organophosphates pesticides damage the fetal brain and produce cognitive and behavioral dysfunction.”


Indeed, one study found that “the cohort of US children born in 2010 lost 1.8 million IQ points and 7,500 children had their IQs shifted into the intellectual disability range as a result of prenatal organophosphate exposures.” The economic cost alone of this lost intelligence and increased disability is $45 billion a year.

But no one can calculate the lifetime impact on the children themselves and their families. What is the cost of having to deal with permanent intellectual disability?

One study cited by the PLOS article found “prenatal chlorpyrifos exposure may induce tremors detectable in middle childhood.” There are also links to autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Unsurprisingly, chlorpyrifos was banned for home use back in 2000, and the Obama EPA recommended banning the pesticide on food crops.

But last year, Pruitt “signed an order denying a petition that sought to ban chlorpyrifos,” after a big push by the agro-chemical industry. The pesticide is made by Dow Chemical, which donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration.

But, again, the chlorpyrifos case is not an isolated instance of the EPA caring more about polluters than kids and families.


Consider Trump’s efforts to undo the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rule aimed at cutting carbon pollution from power plants and preserving a livable climate, while creating jobs. Indeed, the Trump EPA’s own analysis of the direct health impacts found that in 2030 (and every year after), it could mean up to 90,000 more asthma attacks in kids, and 140,000 missed days of school.

Trump’s EPA determined that Obama’s Clean Power Plan would prevent, cumulatively, some 40,000 to 100,000 deaths between 2020 and 2050.

Again and again, in Trump policies we see callous disregard for the impact on our children and families. And let’s remember that his efforts to undermine domestic and international climate action is literally stealing our children’s future livable climate to enrich fossil fuel companies.

The list of potential Trump policies that harm children and families is endless. As ThinkProgress reported last month, Trump wants to fix the deficit, caused by his tax cuts, by cutting billions from children’s health care.


The disturbing pictures and video and audio from the border rightfully capture the attention of the media, the nation, and the world. But even if Trump is somehow shamed into stopping that toxic policy, there are countless other toxic policies that also must be stopped for the sake of our children.