EPA Chooses Not to Ban Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage in Children

Crop sprayer spraying pesticides on crops in field. (Credit: simonkr / Getty Images)

Crop sprayer spraying pesticides on crops in field. (Credit: simonkr / Getty Images)

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided against a ban of the widely-used pesticide chlorpyrifos, which critics say is associated with neurological problems in children.

The agency concluded there is not sufficient evidence of the chemical’s dangers to justify the ban requested by environmental groups and a group of states. Those groups cast the decision as another example of the Trump administration siding with industry.

“EPA has determined that their objections must be denied because the data available are not sufficiently valid, complete or reliable to meet petitioners’ burden to present evidence demonstrating that the tolerances are not safe,” the agency said in a statement Thursday.

Critics say science shows chlorpyrifos is associated with neurological conditions in farm workers and their children.

Environmental regulators in California moved in May to ban the pesticide, saying it “poses serious public health and environmental risks to vulnerable communities.”

The EPA banned chlorpyrifos for household uses in 2000, but allowed agricultural producers to continue using it. That decision has been challenged through petitions and in the courts since 2007. Last summer, a federal court ordered the EPA to review the petition, and after a review of that decision, the agency was given 90 days in April to make a determination, culminating in Thursday’s decision.

“By allowing chlorpyrifos to stay in our fruits and vegetables, Trump’s EPA is breaking the law and neglecting the overwhelming scientific evidence that this pesticide harms children’s brains,” said attorney Patti Goldman of Earthjustice, who represents the groups that took the issue to court.

The chemical’s producer, Corteva Agriscience — previously Dow AgroSciences — did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The EPA said it will continue an ongoing review of chlorpyrifos and make its next determination about the pesticide by 2022. That review “could result in further use limitations affecting the outcome of EPA’s assessment,” its statement said. The agency is required by law to preiodically review chemicals.

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