Despite the fact that pesticide Chlorpyrifos has a reputation within the scientific and medical communities as a “toxic, braining-damaging pesticide” * the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is extending the use of the neurotoxic pesticide** for some purposes.*** The EPA has come full circle since 2015 when the Obama Administration was ready to withdraw chlorpyrifos from the market.****
Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely-used pesticides in U.S. agriculture, used on crops from corn to soybeans to fresh produce like apples. Non-agricultural uses include golf courses.
The EPA’s interim decision reportedly leaves much undecided, including safety thresholds for chlorpyrifos exposure, and possible mitigation measures, which the EPA is currently negotiating with chlorpyrifos manufacturers.
The EPA’s proposed interim decision and associated risk assessments are open to public comment for 60 days.
*Long-term studies have demonstrated that children who are exposed to chlorpyrifos while in the womb can suffer from higher rates of a broad range of developmental disorders, including reduced IQ and memory deficits, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Additionally, a ban on the pesticide is widely supported by the medical science community.
**Hawaii, New York and California ban the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.
***Following the EPA’s proposed ban on chlorpyrifos in 2015, Dow AgroSciences, the largest chlorpyrifos manufacturer, moved aggressively to get the ban proposal lifted by the Trump Administration, which campaigned on regulatory cutbacks. As a result, in 2017, the Trump EPA reversed the proposed ban. Faced with another court-mandated deadline, the Trump EPA again refused to ban chlorpyrifos in 2019.
****Recent scientific studies have also linked exposure to highly toxic pesticides to increased risk for endometriosis, autism and reduced sperm count in adult males.