California Phasing Out Chlorpyrifos Use by End of 2020

SACRAMENTO —The California Department of Pesticide Regulation today announced that virtually all use of chlorpyrifos—a pesticide linked to learning disabilities in children—will be phased out in the state by the end of 2020, following years of pressure from public health, farmworker and community groups. Sales will cease in February, but use will be allowed until December 31, 2020.

California uses approximately 20% of all chlorpyrifos used in the U.S., and more than any other state.

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

“This is a landmark victory for the health of California’s farmworkers, rural families and children across the country. Chlorpyrifos poisons the people who live and work in agricultural communities, and threatens the brain development of children everywhere who eat the fruits and vegetables grown with it. While the Trump administration relentlessly fights to keep it legal, California is taking a stand and saying it has no place in our fields or on our food. We will continue to push EPA to extend these protections beyond California’s borders to people nationwide.”


Adapted from World War II-era nerve gases, chlorpyrifos was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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.

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.

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.

NRDC and partner groups have been fighting for more than two decades to get chlorpyrifos out of our food supply. This includes ongoing litigation against the Trump administration over its refusal to ban the chemical from use on U.S. food crops.

In the absence of federal protections, states are starting to stand up. Hawaii has also started the process to ban the chemical, and the New York state legislature passed a ban that awaits the Governor’s signature.

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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.​


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