Amid continuing concerns about the side effects of chlorpyrifos, and the federal government’s recent decision not to ban the controversial pesticide, at least nine states are now pursuing lawsuits against the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), accusing the Trump administration’s regulators of placing industry profits before consumer safety.
In July, 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.
The latest states to file a claims include Hawaii and Oregon, whose attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, issued a press release on September 6 announcing that it has asked the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to join in a proceeding filed in August by six other attorneys general seeking to overturn the EPA’s decision. The District of Columbia also filed to join the litigation.
Manufactured by Dow Chemical, chlorpyrifos was first put into use in 1965. It was banned in household settings in 2001, due to the health risks. However, 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.
“It is really alarming that the Trump Administration is disregarding the law by allowing a toxic pesticide that is dangerous to young children and infants to be used in our national food stream,” Rosenblum said in the press release. “Every one of us eats food that comes from around the country, so until the EPA can show this pesticide is safe, there should be a national ban. Farmworkers, their families and children living nearby are the people to bear the disproportional brunt of this toxin.”
California has already moved to ban the pesticide, with restrictions on chlorpyrifos already in effect since January.
The original chlorpyrifos lawsuit was filed by New York, which has previously been joined by California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington.
Several bills have been introduced to ban or restrict chlorpyrifos by Democrats in Congress at the national level as well, but those bills are not likely to move forward with the parties controlling one chamber each.