Published: Mon, July 22, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

What is Chlorpyrifos? Trump's EPA Says It Won't Ban Controversial Pesticide

What is Chlorpyrifos? Trump's EPA Says It Won't Ban Controversial Pesticide

"The EPA said it will continue an ongoing review of chlorpyrifos and make its next determination about the pesticide by 2022". He said his operation uses chlorpyrifos on rare occasions, like during an outbreak of the vine mealybug on grape crops.

This is despite a finding from the EPA under the Obama administration that the pesticide should be completely banned, and a previous court order telling the agency to act on it.

But in 2017, the EPA administrator at the time, Scott Pruitt, reversed the decision saying: "We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment".

The insecticide has been linked to inhibiting the brain development of children when exposure occurs in the womb.

"After reviewing the objections, EPA has determined that the objections related to Petition claims regarding neurodevelopmental toxicity must be denied because the objections and the underlying Petition are not supported by valid, complete, and reliable evidence sufficient to meet the Petitioners' burden", wrote Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator for chemical safety.

Caroline Cox, a senior scientist at the Center for Environmental Health, said chlorpyrifos was a unique case, in that the evidence was abundant on how risky it was.

The EPA said it also was talking with chlorpyrifos makers about further restrictions on how farmers use the pesticide. After oral arguments in March, the court ordered the EPA to formally respond to objections raised by a group of public interest groups and seven states opposed to chlorpyrifos within 90 days.

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Farmers have pressed to keep chlorpyrifos, which has always been banned from indoor use, available for use on crops.

The agency said the environmental groups had failed to prove that the pesticide wasn't safe.

Farmworker Justice, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping migrant and seasonal workers improve their health and occupational safety, says farmworkers face greater risks of becoming poisoned or affected by pesticides because they work where the chemicals are at their greatest concentrations and strengths.

While it is not a federal ban, many states have implanted or will soon be implementing their own bans on this pesticide. "We will continue to fight until chlorpyrifos is banned and children and farmworkers are safe from this unsafe chemical".

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said current EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler ignored the advice of EPA scientists who supported a ban. Last year, Hawaii became the first state to prohibit its use, and NY and California have followed suit.

Environmental health experts say there's evidence that exposure to even low levels of chlorpyrifos through conventional produce can lead to developmental and cognitive problems in infants and children and that they haven't found a safe level for children or pregnant women.

This is the second EPA decision in a week that affects products sold by Dow Agrisciences, LLC.

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