California Bans Pesticide Toxic to Kids

Move Comes While EPA Continues to Fight to Keep Chlorpyrifos on Fruits and Vegetables Nationwide

SACRAMENTO—California’s Environmental Protection Agency today announced a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to learning disabilities in children that is widely used on fruits and vegetables across the country.

California currently uses approximately 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos a year, which is nearly 20 percent of all use in the U.S. and more than any other state. Farmworkers and families in agricultural communities face disproportionate harm because the chemical is used so close to where they live, work and go to school—resulting in exposures from air, water and dust in their homes.

The news comes while the Trump administration continues to fight in court to keep the chemical on our food supply nationwide. In the absence of federal protections, states are starting to stand up. Last summer, Hawaii banned the chemical. And just last week the New York state legislature passed a ban that now awaits the Governor’s signature.

A statement follows from Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

“This is a historic victory for California’s agricultural communities and for children nationwide. The science clearly shows that chlorpyrifos is too dangerous to use in our fields. Since California uses more chlorpyrifos than any other state, this ban will not only protect kids who live here, but kids who eat the fruits and veggies grown here. While the Trump administration continues to put its friends in the chemical industry before children’s health, Governor Newsom is making it clear this toxic stuff has no place in our fields or on the food we feed our families. The sooner the ban goes into action, the safer they will be.”


Adapted from World War II-era nerve gases, chlorpyrifos was banned from use in household products, like roach sprays, nearly two decades ago but is still widely used on many U.S. food crops, including children’s favorites like apples, oranges and strawberries.

NRDC has been fighting for more than two decades to get chlorpyrifos out of our food supply, and first petitioned EPA to ban it in 2007 with the Pesticide Action Network. EPA was finally on track to ban it at the end of 2016. Shortly after taking office, however, the Trump administration reversed course and continues to fight to keep it on the market.

EPA’s own assessment of the chemical’s risks shows that exposure to low levels of the pesticide in early life can lead to increased risk of learning disabilities, including reductions in IQ, developmental delay and ADHD. This assessment is based on dozens of scientific studies including from Dow Chemical, the nation’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos.

Dow Chemical has close ties to the President. Among other things, the company reportedly donated $1 million for Trump’s inauguration and its CEO previously played a chief advisory role to the president, heading up his now defunct “American Manufacturing Council.”

Today’s action in California follows extensive scientific and regulatory review from the California EPA.

For more information, go to:


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​