Pesticide Chlorpyrifos, a Neurotoxin, to be Banned in CA

In a bold decision the state of California has moved to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos because of scientific research linking it to harm it can potentially cause to babies’ brains.  California, an agricultural state, had previously restricted its use and according to the Associated Press, Hawaii banned it last year, and New York lawmakers recently sent a measure to the governor that would outlaw its use.

It goes beyond being on your fruits and veggies

The pesticide [chlorpyrifos] is in a class of organophosphates chemically similar to a nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany before World War II. Its heavy use has often left traces in drinking water sources. A 2012 study by the University of California, Berkeley, found that 87% of umbilical-cord blood samples tested from newborn babies contained detectable levels of the pesticide.

-Associated Press

Chlorpyrifos and the link with adverse brain outcomes

Studies in cities where the pesticide was once used to kill cockroaches before it was banned for indoor use in 2000 and in rural farm-worker communities showed it harmed brain development in fetuses and affected reading ability, IQ and led to hyperactivity in children. Even head sizes were smaller in children whose mothers were exposed to the pesticide.

-Dr. Gina Solomon, medical professor, University of California, San Francisco, and former deputy secretary of Cal-EPA

Some question the basis for the ban

The president of California Citrus Mutual questions the scientific studies indicating the pesticide is a neurotoxin that has adverse effects on babies’ brain development, citing what is important is the potential threats to crops from invasive insects.

Anticipating the potential threat to citrus crops California is adding contributing $5.7 million to the development of safer alternatives in order to help farmers make the transition away from chlorpyrifos.

The backstory

California took action in part because the federal government allowed the pesticide to be used after the Obama administration tried to phase it out.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald Trump reversed that effort after reevaluating the science. Environmental groups and farm-workers challenged that decision, and a federal appeals court last month ordered the EPA to decide by July whether to ban the pesticide.

-Associated Press

What’s next?

The ban in California could take up to two years to take effect.  In the meantime, the California state Department of Pesticide Regulation has recommended that county agriculture commissioners adopt stricter rules on where and how the chemical can be applied.


Source: Associated Press