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Labor and Health Groups Push to Ban Harmful Pesticide

Supporters claim Chlorpyrifos is a critical component in the "toolbox" for managing pests, but health and environmental advocates say it's too dangerous to human health. (Pixabay)
Supporters claim Chlorpyrifos is a critical component in the "toolbox" for managing pests, but health and environmental advocates say it's too dangerous to human health. (Pixabay)
July 10, 2018

TALLAHASSEE – A federal judge heard final arguments Monday in a case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's decision not to ban a widely used pesticide linked to neurodevelopment damage in children.

A coalition of labor and health organizations represented by Earthjustice went before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle urging the court to force the EPA to ban the chemical chlorpyrifos, which was declared unsafe during the Obama administration.

Virginia Ruiz, director of occupational and environmental health at Farmworkers Justice, says the product which is used all around the country has studies showing it's too dangerous and should be a concern in Florida's agricultural industry.

"There are many farm workers and many residents of rural communities in Florida that are exposed to chlorpyrifos, and it's important people should be concerned about the impact on their health," she says.

A Dow Chemical spokesman said in a statement, "Dow AgroSciences remains confident that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos products offer wide margins of protection for human health and safety."

Last year the EPA refused to ban chlorpyrifos, claiming the science was "unresolved" and decided it would study the issue until 2022. However, the chemical already was banned for residential use in the country since 2001 and just last month Hawaii issued a ban on agricultural use.

Ruiz says the EPA is overlooking its own findings.

"It's become more evident in recent years through more research on health effects that it does pose serious developmental delays for kids when they are exposed to low doses in utero," she notes.

Chlorpyrifos is considered one of the most widely used ingredients in insecticides and has been used in Florida's citrus industry, among others, to ward off insect pests.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL