Chlorpyrifos Exposure Caused Autism, Other Neurological Problems, Lawsuit Claims

A growing number of lawsuits are being filed over the side effects of chlorpyrifos, indicating exposure to the pesticide is toxic and resulted in cases of autism, neurological problems and other disabilities among newborns.

The cases have been brought against Dow Chemical in California state courts, alleging that injuries were caused by chlorpyrifos exposure from products sold under brand names like Lorsband, Dursban and others.

One of the first such complaints was filed in September by Alba Luz Calderon de Cerda and Rafael Cerda Martinez, in Kings County Superior Court. According to a press release issued this week by one of the law firms involved in the cases, another 50 plaintiffs are prepared to present similar complaints before the end of the week.

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Chlorpyrifos was first put into use in 1965. Although use of the product in household settings was banned in 2001, due to the health risks, it is still used on more than 40,000 farms nationally for 50 different types of crops, including grapes and almonds. It has been sold under a variety of brand names, including Dursban and Lorsban, as well as Scout, Empire, Eradex, and Warhawk.

In a study published in 2014, chlorpyrifos was added to a list of 11 chemicals identified as developmental neurotoxins, with widespread damaging affects to developing brains and reducing intelligence. Researchers indicated chlorpyrifos, along with other chemicals, may cause neurodevelopmental disabilities in children, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia.

The complaint filed in September came from the parents of Rafael Calderan Cerda, born in 2003, who suffers from autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other cognitive and intellectual disabilities. The lawsuit claims he was exposed to chlorpyrifos both in utero and during his early development.

The child’s exposure to chlorpyrifos came both from his father’s work as a pesticide sprayer, who came home with clothes covered in the chemicals, and due to the proximity of the family’s apartment, which was near areas where large amounts of chlorpyrifos was sprayed, and which ended up in the city’s water supply.

In July 2019, the EPA made a controversial decision to allow chlorpyrifos to stay on the market in the United States, despite numerous objections and studies linking the pesticide to serious health risks. Since then, several states have either filed complaints against the EPA over the decision, or say they plan to do so.

California has already moved to ban the pesticide, with restrictions on chlorpyrifos already in effect since January 2019.

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