What's all the 'chlorpyri-fuss' about? We filed a lawsuit to ban it!

Today NRDC filed a lawsuit against EPA for 'unreasonable delay and failing to act' on our 2007 petition to cancel one of the most hazardous pesticides on the market, chlorpyrifos. Yay NRDC, and our partners in this lawsuit, Pesticide Action Network North America, and Earthjustice.

How bad is chlorpyrifos? So bad that EPA cancelled all residential uses in 2001, except contained ant and roach baits, to prevent hazardous exposures to children. It causes headaches, nausea, muscle spasms, and can cause seizures and even death at high doses. Even low doses that occurred in people's homes (before the residential ban) from using chlorpyrifos to treat pest problems were enough to be associated with measurable cognitive deficits and developmental delays in children exposed during early fetal and infant development (Rauh et al, Pediatrics, 2006; Lovasi et al, AJPH, 2010).

In 2002 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 82% of randomly sampled Americans had chlorpyrifos metabolites in their urine, indicating regular exposure (NHANES III, Series 11, No 4A, Sept 2000).

But, EPA didn't cancel chlorpyrifos uses on many foods and agriculture products. In fact, the US Department of Agriculture reported in 2007 that chlorpyrifos residues were found on 18% of peaches tested, 15.8% of nectarines, 6.8% of brocolli, 46% of almonds, and 30% of corn grain (USDA Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary, Calendar year 2007).

Continued agriculture use of chlorpyrifos is harmful for farmworkers that work with treated crops, children of farmworkers that live near treated fields, and consumers that eat the tainted foods. When it was banned for home uses, a measurable decrease in poisonings was documented (Stone et al, Environ Health 2009). Why not stop poisoning people through agriculture uses too?

About the Authors

Jennifer Sass

Senior Scientist, Health program

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