The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to ban all agricultural use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, because of the health risks from contaminated drinking water.
The agency said it would issue a final decision by the end of next year, after taking public comment.
The EPA had already eliminated household uses in home gardens, insect sprays and other products in 2000 — in response to a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups — because the chemical damages the developing brains of children.
Veena Singla, a scientist with the health program at NRDC, said, “We’ve known for years that chlorpyrifos is dangerous, and that’s why we sued EPA—to take it off the market. The agency’s announcement today is a huge step in the right direction, but we think there’s enough evidence to ban all its uses now.”
Chlorpyrifos is a toxic chemical sprayed on apples, oranges, broccoli, nuts and scores of other crops.
It’s also used on golf courses.
It is associated with long-lasting neurological damage to children and numerous farmworker poisonings. Farms in the United States disperse more than 5 million pounds of it each year.
EPA’s decision was the outcome of a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice, NRDC and Pesticide Action Network, asking EPA to ban chlorpyrifos.
“This is what we have been seeking for years. EPA’s and other independent findings show that chlorpyrifos causes brain damage to children and poisons workers and bystanders,” said Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice attorney handling the case. “At long last, the agency is signaling its intention to protect children, workers and their families by banning this hazardous pesticide. It is imperative that EPA move quickly to protect workers and children by finalizing this important rule.”