Experts debunked a theory this week that linked pesticides to an increase in birth defects thought to be caused by the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil.

The theory gained traction among social media users after Argentine environmentalists issued a report linking the surge to pyriproxyfen, a chemical that kills mosquito larvae.

Pyripyroxyfen interferes with a mosquito growth hormone, preventing the larvae from developing into adults, said biologist Laura Harrington, professor and chairwoman of the entomology department at Cornell University in New York.

Brazil’s Ministry of Health rejected any link between the chemical and the microcephaly outbreak, noting the World Health Organization deems pyriproxyfen safe for use as a pesticide.

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