The Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that experts say is linked to health and developmental problems in children. The battle to ban the chemical has been going on for years and will likely continue in the years to come.
Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide commonly sprayed on crops such as apples, berries, and oranges, and studies have shown that it can cause neurological problems in farmers and long-term harm to children’s brains. While it has been banned from household use since 2000, use of the chemical for agricultural purposes still persists.
Environmental organizations have been petitioning the EPA to ban the chemical completely since 2007, but the agency recently announced that it will not ban chlorpyrifos due the lack of evidence against it. According to the agency, the data presented against it was not valid, reliable, or complete to show that it is not safe.
Naturally, petitioners took the move as a blow, saying that the administration’s EPA is actually breaking the law and purposely neglecting scientific evidence showing that the chemical is harmful to children. Further, they note that this shows how the administration chose the side of business rather than the people, noting that Corteva Agriscience, the producer of chlorpyrifos, reportedly donated $1 million to the President’s inauguration.
That said, the fight is not yet over for the groups willing to fight the EPA’s refusal to ban the chemical, and even states are making their own move against its usage. So far, Hawaii has become the first state to ban chlorpyrifos, and California and New York are also committed to banning it.
As for the EPA, it says it will continue to review chlorpyrifos and will once again make a decision in 2022.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate chemical used against pests such as termites, roundworms, and mosquitoes. It was first registered in 1965 as an insecticide, and was re-registered in 2006 by the EPA.
People can be exposed to the chemical by breathing it in, eating it, or getting it on the skin or eyes. In experiments, young laboratory animals exposed to chlorpyrifos exhibited developmental delays and changes in social behavior and brain development. Further, it affected the nervous system of young animals more severely than it did to adult animals.
Researchers also determined that the children with traces of chlorpyifos in their blood had more developmental delays, attention deficit disorders, and hyperactivity disorders than the children who did not have chyporifos in their blood.
Generally, children are more sensitive and more likely to be exposed to pesticides than adults. Anyone who still uses chlorpyrifos must follow the instructions carefully so as to avoid pesticide exposure to self and others.