On Thursday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson that the EPA halted a scientific safety review of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The court said by stopping that review, the EPA allows the continued use of the pesticide at potentially dangerous levels. The court reversed the EPA’s decision to allow continued use of chlorpyrifos, and ordered the EPA to revoke all uses on food within 60 days.
The EPA’s mission is not ambiguous: Protection is literally its middle name,” Ferguson said. “This action by the Trump Administration was yet another attempt to undermine the EPA’s mandate. It is disappointing that it took a federal lawsuit to force the EPA to do its job. I won’t allow the Administration to ignore science at the expense of Washington farmworkers and consumers.”
Chlorpyrifos is an ingredient in numerous pesticide products, used on more than 80 food crops nationwide. People who buy these foods, including several types of fruit, may be eating residue of chlorpyrifos.
Scientific evidence has documented the harmful effects chlorpyrifos has on human health, such as lower IQ and attention deficit disorders. Children are at the highest risk of exposure, as well as pregnant women.
Farmworkers and those living in agricultural communities also experience dangerous levels of exposure. Other than by consuming residue on food, unsafe exposure to chlorpyrifos can occur through drifting during a pesticide application and by entering treated fields up to 18 days afterward. As of 2015, there were nearly 100,000 agricultural workers in Washington state working on about 7,312,000 acres of cropland statewide.
Due to these safety concerns, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) filed a petition with the EPA requesting the agency revoke the use of chlorpyrifos in 2007. More than eight years later, the EPA began the rulemaking process to prohibit all uses of chlorpyrifos on food. In 2016, the EPA published a proposed rule that would have revoked all uses of the pesticide on food.
When former EPA head Scott Pruitt suddenly stopped its review of the pesticide in March 2017, his only reasoning was that the scientific research on the effects of chlorpyrifos remain “unresolved.”
Washington and six other states filed objections to the EPA’s decision in June 2017
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