NRDC Takes Trump Administration To Court Over Refusal to Ban Pesticide Linked to Learning Disabilities in Children

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to evade a federal court order by refusing to proceed with its proposed ban of chlorpyrifos—a pesticide linked to learning disabilities in children—according to litigation filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network. Just last fall, EPA’s own health analysis of the chemical showed that residues on fruits and vegetables led to exposures in children up to 14,000 percent higher than EPA’s safety limit.

“The Trump administration is not above the law—and we will not let them put our kids at risk,” said Erik Olson, senior attorney and Director of the Health Program at NRDC. “The science is clear that this chemical is dangerous, yet Administrator Pruitt is ignoring findings from EPA’s own experts and brushing off the courts to keep it on the market. We are asking the court to step-in to keep our children safe.” 

EPA had been under a court order to respond to petition to ban the chemical—filed in 2007 by NRDC and PAN—by last Friday, March 31. Instead, the agency announced last week that it would wait five more years before making any further safety determination on the use of the chemical, effectively greenlighting its continued use on food crops in the meantime.

NRDC and PAN, represented in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by Earthjustice, today filed a motion to enforce the previous court order and require EPA to make a decision on the proposed ban within 30 days. The group argues that EPA cannot delay its decision on the ban any further because it has not presented any new scientific research that reverses their findings last fall that the pesticide is dangerous and widespread on U.S. produce.

Significant science 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 behavioral problems, such as ADHD.

“EPA is refusing to take this chemical off the market—but it is not rescinding its own scientists’ finding that this pesticide is toxic to children,” said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist at NRDC. “Parents shouldn’t have to worry that a dangerous chemical might be lurking in the fruits and veggies they feed their kids. The health of our children must come before chemical corporations.”

NRDC has been pressing EPA to ban agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos for nearly a decade. Earlier this year, NRDC joined nearly 50 doctors, nurses, public health experts and scientific researchers in urging the agency to take swift action in light of new research suggesting much smaller concentrations of the pesticide than previously believed are dangerous to children.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 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, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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