Lawsuit Seeks EPA Action to Protect Kids from Pesticide

Toxic pesticide residues on food, unsafe drinking water, and contaminated air cannot be allowed to threaten children's health. NRDC and partners (Pesticide Action Network and Earthjustice) are taking EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to court for failing to act on the science and follow the law - leaving children at increased risk from learning disabilities, reduced IQ and behavioral problems.

NRDC and PAN originally petitioned EPA to ban chlorpyrifos ban in 2007—nearly a decade ago. EPA responded by proposing a ban on the chemical in 2015 based on finding extensive risk from contaminated drinking water. An update 5 months ago affirmed those findings and additionally found that current uses in agriculture are not safe for children—leaving harmful residues behind on common fruits and veggies that led to exposures in children up to 14,000 percent (equivalent to 140 times) of EPA’s safety limit.

Yet, last week, under a court-ordered deadline to make a final decision on the ban by March 31, Pruitt reversed course and put the brakes on EPA's proposed ban.

Yet, the denial did not offer new science showing that chlorpyrifos could be used safely. Instead, Pruitt kicked action on the pesticide down the road another 5 years - precisely the type of delay the court emphatically told EPA was not acceptable (twice!) in 2015 and then again in August of 2016.

As over 60 scientists and medical professionals said last year in a letter to EPA, the impacts of chlorpyrifos on children raise serious concerns:

“Chlorpyrifos is a powerful developmental neurotoxicant. Exposures to even very low doses of chlorpyrifos during critical windows of exquisite vulnerability during the nine months of pregnancy and in early postnatal life can cause brain damage to children that is characterized by diminished cognitive ability (lowered IQ), problems with working memory, delays in motor development and disruptions of primitive reflexes. It should be noted that working memory skills in the early elementary school years are a strong predictor of learning outcomes and academic achievement in later years (Alloway et al. 2010). These disruptions in children’s brain development appear to be permanent, irreversible and lifelong.”

NRDC stands with medical professionals, scientific experts, farmworkers and agricultural communities across the country to seek court action in the face of a Trump Administration unwilling to put children's health over corporate profits.

Parents shouldn’t have to worry that a dangerous chemical might be lurking in the fruits and veggies they feed their kids. EPA must be held accountable for its actions. The science is clear that this chemical is dangerous, yet Administrator Pruitt is ignoring findings from EPA’s own experts and brushing off the courts to keep it on the market. We are asking the court to step-in, enforce the law, and keep our children and food supply safe from this toxic chemical. 

About the Authors

Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

Senior Scientist, Health and Environment program

Jennifer Sass

Senior Scientist, Health program

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