The agricultural pesticide chlorpyrifos, which escaped being banned nationally a couple of years ago, soon won’t be legally available in New York or Hawaii.
Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt two years ago reversed the agency’s decision to impose a national ban on the pesticide sought by the departing Obama administration. At that time, Pruitt said the EPA needed to provide regulatory certainty for American agriculture. He said farms that rely on chlorpyrifos do so while protecting human health and the environment.
Chlorpyrifos was first registered for use in the United States by Dow Chemical in 1965 to control leafage and ground insects. It was used extensively on residential lawns and golf course turf as a structural termite control agent. Banned from home use in the United States for about 17 years now, it is still allowed for agriculture uses so long as label instructions are followed.
Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used pesticides in the world. New York State apple growers are among the agricultural users, and they will get extended time for tree trunk applications. New York is second only to Washington state for apple production.
In defending the proposed national ban, outgoing Obama administration officials pointed to research that suggested farm workers and children, if exposed, are put at unnecessary risk.
Legislators recently approved Senate bill S5343 and Assembly bill A2477B, which ban chlorpyrifos in New York. This is a major victory for children’s health and puts New York on track to become by 2021 the first state in the country to end the use of chlorpyrifos. Hawaii enacted a ban in 2018, though it does not take full effect until the end of 2022.
Dozens of studies show that exposure to chlorpyrifos is associated with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, attention disorders, and delayed motor development in infants and children. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded in 2016 that all uses of chlorpyrifos are unsafe, but Trump’s EPA refuses to ban the pesticide despite the science. Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate that comes from the same chemical family as sarin nerve gas, is used on foods like apples, citrus, broccoli, corn, and more.