New Federal Bill Would Ban Chlorpyrifos

Introduced Same Week as Arguments in Ongoing Court Battle with EPA Over Pesticide Toxic to Kids

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) today reintroduced a 2017 bill that would protect children nationwide by banning chlorpyrifos—a pesticide linked to learning disabilities—from use on U.S. fruits and vegetables. It joins a similar House measure introduced earlier this year by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY).

Senator Udall's bill comes the day before the second anniversary of the Trump administration’s refusal to ban the chemical, in response to a petition against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network more than a decade ago. The groups, represented by Earthjustice, are continuing to fight that decision and provided our latest arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week.

A statement follows from Jennifer Sass, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Parents feed their kids fruits and veggies because they want the best for them—they shouldn’t have to worry it will harm their development. The Trump administration knows this pesticide is linked to learning disabilities but is fighting tooth and nail to keep it on our food and on our fields anyway. These congressional leaders have had enough of the Trump administration playing politics with children’s health and are taking matters into their own hands.”


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.

Farmworkers and families in agricultural communities face additional risk 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.

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.”

Earlier this week, The New York Times also underscored the catastrophic impact of chlorpyrifos on threatened and endangered species when it reported that Acting U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt prevented the release of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study concluding that it and two other pesticides are putting nearly 1,400 species on a path to extinction.

In the absence of federal protections, states are starting to stand up. Last summer, Hawaii became the first state to ban the chemical, and California released a scientific study that reaffirmed health concerns about the chemical and set the stage for extensive restrictions.

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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.