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Hearing Set Challenging EPA's Refusal to Ban Controversial Pesticide

The EPA in the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era decision to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos.(pgiam/iStockphoto)
The EPA in the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era decision to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos.(pgiam/iStockphoto)
July 9, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The battle to ban a pesticide that the State of California has linked to reproductive harm continues to play out in court today as final arguments in the case commence before a federal judge in Seattle.

Conservation groups sued the EPA after former administrator Scott Pruitt, having met with Dow Chemical, decided to keep chlorpyrifos on the market - even though the agency under President Barack Obama had declared it unsafe and proposed a ban. Patti Goldman, northwest managing attorney for the law firm Earthjustice, said multiple studies make it clear that chlorpyrifos is too dangerous to be used, especially around kids.

"What's emerged in the last 20 years is incredibly solid evidence that this pesticide damages children's brains at very low exposures,” Goldman said; “things like reduced IQ, autism, attention deficit disorder - every parent's fear."

Chlopyrifos is one of the most widely used pesticides in the U.S., particularly in California, where it is mainly applied to golf courses and to about 50 different crops - including almonds, grapes, walnuts, oranges and cotton.

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."

Goldman said use of the pesticide puts the health of farmworkers and their families at particularly heightened risk.

"They have the residues on their food like all of us do. It's in their water and it's in the air close to the fields where they live and work and go to school,” she said. “So they have like triple the exposures."

Chorpyrifos has been banned for residential use since 2001, and the state of California has placed restrictions on its use in fields. The judge with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to render a decision in the coming weeks or months.

A livestream of the hearing is viewable here.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA