EPA Fights Court Order to Finalize Ban on Pesticide Toxic to Kids

SEATTLE — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a decision ordering the agency to ban chlorpyrifos—a pesticide linked to learning disabilities in children—from use on produce sold in the U.S.

Last month, a panel of the 9th Circuit ruled the agency broke the law by continuing to allow the toxic chemical to be used on fruits and vegetables despite solid science—including from EPA’s own scientists—showing it harms the developing brain. EPA is now requesting the full court to rehear the case.

The lawsuit was brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council as part of a coalition of labor and health organizations, represented by Earthjustice.

A statement follows from Erik Olson, Senior Director of Health and Food at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“The Trump administration is shameless in its refusal to ban this dangerous chemical that is poisoning our children’s brains. Science, the law and EPA’s own staff have all made it clear this toxic stuff does not belong on our food or in our fields, yet this administration is still going to bat for the billion-dollar chemical industry. We will not stop fighting to put children’s health before powerful polluters.”


NRDC has been fighting for more than a decade to get chlorpyrifos out of our food supply, petitioning 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—allowing it to continue being sprayed all over numerous U.S. food crops, including kid favorites like apples, oranges and berries.

Significant science—including from EPA itself—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.

Dow Chemical—the nation’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos—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.

In the absence of EPA action, states are starting to stand up. In June, Hawaii became the first state to ban the chemical. And at the end of July, California —which accounts for close to 20 percent of all chlorpyrifos used in the U.S.—released a scientific study reaffirming health concerns about the chemical and setting the stage for extensive restrictions. NRDC is urging the state to follow up by acting on the advice of its own experts and banning the chemical within its borders—a move that would not only protect state agricultural workers and communities, but people nationwide who consume fruit, veggies and nuts grown there.

For more information, go to: https://www.nrdc.org/chlorpyrifos.


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 www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​

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