EPA plan could reduce health risks of toxic pesticideThe EPA now proposes new pesticide measures. The EPA has unveiled an apparent plan to keep the insecticide chlorpyrifos on the US market, but with more restrictions. On Dec. 4, 2020, the agency announced a proposed interim decision. The EPA proposed changes to the chlorpyrifos label that would limit the pesticide’s use. The agency also said it wants to add more personal protective equipment for workers who spray the organophosphate chlorpyrifos pesticide. EPA also said it wants to take steps to reduce spray drift to “non-target organisms.”
The agency’s belated decision comes after several states – including California – have moved to ban chlorpyrifos altogether, or limit most uses of it. It was banned permanently for home use back in 2000, yet remains on the market for many “agricultural” uses. At issue is the pesticide’s “disruption,” or toxic assault, on the developing nervous systems of children. The EPA proposed to ban the use of chlorpyrifos on food in 2016, and then inexplicably reversed that decision in 2017, against the opinions of some of the agency’s senior scientists.
Chlorpyrifos is registered for use on several growing crops, including corn, soybeans, alfalfa, oranges, wheat, and tree nuts. Its use has declined in the past decade, but, according to EPA, its use has increased on sorghum, sweet corn, sunflowers, tobacco, and pears. Chlorpyrifos’ maker, Corteva, announced in 2020 that it would stop making chlorpyrifos by the end of the 2020. The company cited reduced demand rather than any safety concerns.
Since 2007, environmental groups have urged the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos for all applications. EPA denied a petition to ban the poison in 2017, and denied another petition in 2019. Represented by environmental advocacy group Earthjustice, the petitioners are challenging the 2019 decision. A court heard oral arguments in July 2020, but has yet to issue a decision.
Petitioners say the EPA’s proposed restrictions fail to go far enough. They say the EPA is refusing to protect children from damage to their brains and from learning disabilities. Earthjustice managing attorney Patti Goldman said in a statement that the new protections fail to go far enough. She said they still fail children who are still being exposed to chlorpyrifos at levels that cause lifelong damage.
The EPA said it expects to complete the registration review process for several organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, in 2022.
EPA Ignores Own Scientists
In allowing chlorpyrifos to remain on the market, the EPA has, for years, ignored the advice and recommendations of many of its own scientists.