True Cellular Formulas Team - January 03, 2024

Chlormequat Chloride

The New Toxic Threat to Our Health and Environment


In a world increasingly concerned about environmental toxins, our attention has been drawn to a range of hazardous chemicals like glyphosate, PVC, and heavy metals. However, a new threat looms on the horizon, potentially impacting our health and that of future generations. This emerging menace is chlormequat chloride, an agricultural chemical recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in crop production.[1] This decision, ostensibly made to boost crop yields, has raised significant concerns among health and environmental experts.

As you read, it's essential to understand that chlormequat chloride is not just another chemical name on a list. According to a recent investigation by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), this toxin has been found in alarming concentrations in popular oat-based products, including children's cereals.[2] Such findings signal a pressing need for a closer examination of the EPA's regulatory processes and the potential health implications of this newly approved substance.

Understanding Chlormequat Chloride

Chlormequat chloride is an agri-chemical, initially developed to aid farmers in managing crop growth. Its primary function is to prevent crops like oats and grains from bending over, facilitating easier harvesting. While this might sound beneficial from an agricultural standpoint, the implications for human health are far-reaching and deeply concerning.

Historically, chlormequat chloride's usage was confined to ornamental plants, with strict regulations preventing its presence in food crops within the U.S. However, recent policy changes have altered this landscape dramatically. The EWG's investigation found that chlormequat chloride was present in 11 out of 13 tested non-organic oat-based products, with levels deemed unsafe for children's consumption.[2] These findings are particularly alarming given the widespread use of these products in everyday diets.

The shift in regulatory stance on chlormequat chloride during the Trump administration marks a significant turning point. Initially, in 2018, the EPA permitted food containing traces of this chemical to be sold in the U.S. Subsequently, in 2020, the allowed levels in oats were increased, signaling a growing leniency towards this potentially harmful chemical.

Health and Environmental Concerns

The health implications of chlormequat chloride are deeply troubling. Studies in animals have shown that exposure to this chemical can disrupt fetal growth, affect reproductive systems, and cause various developmental issues.[3] This poses significant concerns for human health, especially for children, who are more vulnerable to such exposures. The EWG's benchmark of 30 parts per billion (ppb) as a safe level for children's consumption is based on these animal studies, yet several popular oat-based products have been found to exceed this limit.

These findings are not just a matter of individual health but also raise broader environmental concerns. The introduction of chlormequat chloride into our food supply, particularly in staple foods like oats, has potential long-term ecological impacts. The chemical's presence in widely consumed products means its effects are not confined to isolated areas but are spread across the population, raising the stakes for both environmental and public health.

EPA’s Role and Decision-Making

The EPA's decision to approve chlormequat chloride for use in food crops is a contentious issue. This move, part of a series of regulatory changes under the Trump administration, has been criticized for favoring agricultural interests over public health concerns. The decision to increase permissible levels of chlormequat chloride in oats and other crops reflects a worrying trend of deregulation in the face of potential health risks.[2]

It's crucial to scrutinize the EPA's approval process in this context. The agency's role is to protect human health and the environment, yet its recent decisions, including those regarding chlormequat chloride, chlorpyrifos, and glyphosate, suggest a shift in priorities. Understanding the criteria and considerations behind these decisions is essential for evaluating the adequacy of current regulatory frameworks in safeguarding public health.

The EWG Investigation and Its Findings

The EWG's investigation into chlormequat chloride is a critical piece of this puzzle. In their independent study, the EWG tested 14 popular oat-based products, including cereals and granolas, and found concerning levels of chlormequat in 11 of them.[2] This revelation is alarming, especially considering these products are staples in many households and are frequently consumed by children.

The investigation's methodology involved purchasing these products from various sources and analyzing them in an accredited laboratory. The highest concentration of chlormequat was found in Quaker's Old Fashioned Oats, with a level of 291 ppb, far exceeding EWG's health benchmark. The implications of these findings are profound, highlighting a significant gap between what is legally permissible and what is safe for consumption, particularly for vulnerable populations like children.[2]

Impact on Agriculture and Food Supply

The approval and use of chlormequat chloride in agriculture have far-reaching implications beyond immediate health concerns. This chemical's presence in the food supply chain can affect farming practices, potentially leading to an over-reliance on chemical aids for crop production. Such dependency could have long-term effects on crop diversity, soil health, and overall agricultural sustainability.

Moreover, the widespread use of chlormequat chloride in staple crops like oats raises concerns about its cumulative impact on the global food supply. With the increasing international trade of agricultural products, the regulation of such chemicals becomes a global concern. The potential for chlormequat residue in imported foods underscores the need for stringent international standards and collaborative efforts to ensure food safety worldwide.

Consumer Awareness and Safety Measures

In light of these concerning findings, it's crucial for consumers to be aware and take proactive steps for their safety. While regulatory bodies and manufacturers bear the primary responsibility for ensuring food safety, consumers can also play a role in protecting themselves and their families. One immediate action is opting for organic oat-based products, which are less likely to contain chlormequat chloride, according to the EWG study.

Additionally, staying informed about food safety issues and understanding food labeling can empower consumers to make healthier choices. It's also essential to support and demand more rigorous testing and transparency from food manufacturers and regulatory bodies. By doing so, consumers can influence market trends towards safer, more sustainable food production practices.


The discovery of chlormequat chloride in popular oat-based products is a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges in ensuring food safety. It highlights the need for more stringent regulatory processes, greater transparency from food manufacturers, and increased consumer vigilance. As we move forward, it's essential to learn from these findings and advocate for a food system that prioritizes health and sustainability over profit. Only through collective effort and informed decision-making can we hope to safeguard our health and that of future generations against such hidden threats.

  1. EPA Proposes to Register New Uses of Pesticide Chlormequat Chloride, 
  2. “EWG Investigation: Dangerous Agricultural Chemical Chlormequat Found in Popular Oat-Based Products.” Environmental Working Group, 
  3. Xiagedeer, Bayindala et al. “Maternal chlormequat chloride exposure disrupts embryonic growth and produces postnatal adverse effects.” Toxicology vol. 442 (2020): 152534. doi:10.1016/j.tox.2020.152534

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