EPA Won't Ban Insecticide Link to Health Problems in Children

With a court ordered deadline looming, the EPA decided not to ban a harmful insecticide.
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Agricultural worker spraying cropmladenbalinovac/iStock

In what may go down as one of the more criticized moves by the Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald Trump, the government agency declined to ban chlorpyrifos, an insecticide that is used on a slew of crops

The move comes even as the agency’s own scientist called for the chemical to be banned due to the harm it can cause to children. 


EPA Decides Not to Ban Chemical that Harms Children

With the EPA facing a court-ordered deadline to make a decision on the insecticide it decided to reaffirm its decision in 2017 not to ban the dangerous chemical. 

“In this order, EPA denies the objections to EPA’s March 29, 2017 order denying a 2007 petition from the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to revoke all tolerances and cancel all registrations for the insecticide chlorpyrifos,” the EPA wrote. “ EPA concluded that, despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved and that further evaluation of the science during the remaining time for completion of registration review was warranted regarding whether the potential exists for adverse neurodevelopmental effects to occur from current human exposures to chlorpyrifos.”

Chlorpyrifos Used for Several Row Crops

According to the EPA, chlorpyrifos is used on soybeans, fruit and nut trees, brussels sprouts, cranberries, broccoli, and cauliflower, as well as other row crops. Non-agricultural uses include golf courses, turf, greenhouses, and on non-structural wood treatments such as utility poles and fence posts. The chemical is also registered to be used to combat mosquitos, roach and ant bait stations and in child-resistant packaging.

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The insecticide has been linked to inhibiting the brain development of children when exposure occurs in the womb. According to reports, studies from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of California-Davis and Columbia University have found chlorpyrifos can lower IQ scores and increase the likelihood of autism. The chemical has even shown up in the urine of children who live near crops that are treated with the chemical. What’s more, in 2000 the EPA call for a halt to the majority of home uses for the chemical because it endangers children. 

The decision on the part of the EPA came after a long court battle in which groups fought to block the chemical from being used. The groups have contended in federal court that there was no reason for the EPA to continue to support chlorpyrifos. 

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