Hawaii has become the first state in the United States to prohibit the use of pesticides that contain chlorpyrifos, a chemical harmful to children.

Senate Bill 3095

Gov. David Ige signed Senate Bill 3095 into law on Wednesday, June 13. Pesticides containing chlorpyrifos will be prohibited across the state beginning Jan. 1, 2019. Businesses, however, will can apply for a three-year extension to give them time to adjust to the new guidelines.

The newly signed bill also requires anyone using restricted use pesticides, or RUPs, to report to the Department of Agriculture. RUPs will be prohibited on or within 100 feet of schools while classes are in session.

The bill likewise says that by July 1 next year, the Department of Agriculture will come up with a monitoring study to assess pesticide drift at three Hawaii schools and submit the findings to the legislature. A budget of $300,000 has been appropriated to fund the study.

Health Risks

The Environmental Protection Agency recommended against most household use of chlorpyrifos as early as 18 years ago after the chemical was found to pose dangerous health risks, but in March, the Trump administration decided to halt plans that would completely ban the use of the pesticide, rejecting conclusions made by EPA scientists.

Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxin with detrimental effects particularly in children. These include reduced IQ, lower birth weight, attention disorders, loss of working memory, and delayed motor development.

Exposure also has dangerous effects on adults. Farmers who were exposed to high levels of the chemical have been found to be at higher risk of immune disorders and lung cancer compared with those who did not use the pesticide.

Widely Used In Agriculture

Despite the potential health hazards, the chemical is still widely used in agriculture in the United States. Chlorpyrifos is in fact the country's most commonly applied conventional insecticide based on pounds of active ingredient.

Chlorpyrifos is used on a range of crops, which include corn, apple, cauliflower, walnuts, citrus, and wheat. It is also used to treat wood fences and utility poles as well as on golf courses.

"We celebrate this hard-fought victory for public health and community protections over corporate profits and thank the coalition of groups and communities in Hawaii for showing us how states can lead," said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, from Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which took part in the advocacy to ban the harmful pesticides.

"We will continue to fight back to get this pesticide off the fruits and vegetables we feed our kids nationwide."

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