Seven States Join Effort to Ban Pesticide Toxic to Kids

The fight to ban chlorpyrifos has been heating up this week. NRDC, together with a coalition of advocacy groups—and now seven state Attorneys General—are ramping up the pressure on Trump’s EPA to ban a pesticide linked to learning disabilities in children. It is widely used on food crops in the U.S., including kid favorites like apples, oranges, and strawberries.

Most recently, the Attorneys General of New York, California, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont formally requested that EPA take immediate action to ban chlorpyrifos in a filing made public today. The states argued that Trump EPA’s refusal to ban this pesticide from food crops—despite the agency’s own analysis finding it too dangerous for children—must be overturned.

Chlorpyrifos residues widely found on fruits and vegetables, according to the state AGs, put the residents of their states at risk and represent a source of exposure difficult for states to address due to national, and international, markets for food.  They call on EPA to fulfill its “legal responsibility to protect Americans from unsafe residues on food, and particularly to protect infants and children against potential neuro-developmental and other adverse effects.”    

In filing formal objections, the state AGs join forces with public health, farmworker, and environmental advocates—including NRDC—that also filed a formal administrative appeal with the EPA yesterday, urging the agency to ban the chemical and challenging the agency on its continued use after EPA scientists have determined it to be unsafe. After close to a decade of extensive scientific review, EPA experts found widespread risk to children from contaminated air, water, and residues on food.

The public interest groups also filed a second protective court case yesterday that asks the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to directly review and overturn EPA’s refusal to ban the chemical.

While the legal efforts against the Trump Administration in the courts play out, advocates for agricultural communities are asking states, like California, to put the same fight into combatting harmful exposures from the millions of pounds of chlorpyrifos applied in the fields every year. Multiple studies show that children in agricultural communities are at the highest risk due to contaminated air, water, and dust in their homes, on top of the food residues found nationwide. In California, the state has the independent authority to get chlorpyrifos out of the fields, which would cut close to 20 percent of national use.

The Trump Administration must stop putting chemical corporations ahead of our children’s health. EPA’s own scientists have found this chemical is toxic to young kids—yet the agency continues to allow it to be sprayed on the food we feed them. We are demanding that the EPA Administrator do the right thing—and asking the court to step in to order EPA to stop putting our children’s health at risk.

About the Authors

Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

Senior Scientist, Health and Environment program
Blog Post

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has found that residues from the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos are lurking on fruits & vegetables—up to 14,000 percent higher than the “safe” limits.

Blog Post

A group of over 60 scientists, pediatricians, nurses and clinicians supported the proposal to ban the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos from use on food.

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