As the New York Times piece points out, this decision goes against recommendations of the One study from 2007, highlighted here on Hygeia Analytics, found that 83% of the children of farmworkers in North Carolina had chlorpyrifos residues in their urine.’s own pesticide risk assessment experts, who concluded a few years ago that chlorpyrifos was implicated in neurological and developmental impacts, particularly to farmworkers and children.
It has been widely recognized since the early 1990s that chlorpyrifos is one of the most toxic (OP) on the market. It was a major focus of the 1993 National Academy of Sciences report Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, and one of the primary reasons the Congress passed the historic Food Quality Protection Act ( ) in 1996.
In the late 1990s, the Clintonwas moving forward with a ban on all chlorpyrifos urban and food uses, but backed off in the face of determined opposition from Dow Chemical, the manufacturer.
The most dangerous uses of chlorpyrifos were inside apartment buildings, for control of cockroaches and other insects. Heavy use of chlorpyrifos in large urban housing projects exposed tens of thousands of women, mostly low income and non-Caucasian, and their children, to levels of chlorpyrifos sufficient to impair growth and development, reduce IQ, and trigger a suite of birth defects. One of our goals at Hygeia Analytics is to provide access to key historic documents and media, such as this piece that discusses critical research linking urban chlorpyrifos use to developmental impacts in children born to mothers living in public housing.
Understandably,scientists and administrators did not want to delay for years the cancellation of all chlorpyrifos in-home and urban uses, an outcome that was inevitable if Dow decided to challenge final action through the complex legal process set forth in the nation’s pesticide law.
So Dow and thecut a deal – Dow agreed to voluntarily cancel and stop selling chlorpyrifos for home/urban uses, in return for a very light touch on much higher volume, and more profitable, agricultural uses.
Dow accepted strong dietary exposures in both domestically grown and imported food.actions that essentially eliminated chlorpyrifos use on only three crops – grapes, apples, and tomatoes. Dozens of other fruit and vegetables uses remained on the label essentially unchanged. also passed up the chance to significantly lower all chlorpyrifos food use tolerances, a sure way to reduce
As a result, over the last 20 years, Americans have ingested chlorpyrifos residues on a regular basis, and most pregnant women have chlorpyrifos in their bodies throughout pregnancy.
The highest levels in the food supply today are in imported fruits and vegetables. The failure to lower tolerances on all chlorpyrifos food uses gave fruit and vegetable farmers abroad a higher-risk, lower-cost option to manage a variety of insects. A classic lose-lose outcome.
When President Clinton signed theon August 3, 1996, all of us who had worked for over a decade to shape, defend, and pass the bill were relieved that soon the would take the actions needed to end most chlorpyrifos and other high-risk, OP food uses. And everyone, including our friends in Dow, knew that chlorpyrifos would be among the first, and the most important OPs that would drive off the market and out of the food supply.
If someone had predicted on August 4th of 1996 that chlorpyrifos would still be among the most widely usedin the U.S. and worldwide in 2017, and that most Americans will have chlorpyrifos in their bodies on the day of Scott Pruitt’s reprieve, their prediction would not have passed the laugh test. But, unfortunately, no one is laughing now.
https://www..gov/sites/production/files/2017-03/documents/chlorpyrifos3b_order_denying_panna_and_nrdc27s_petitition_to_revoke_tolerances.pdf, “Chlorpyrifos; Order Denying PANNA and NRDC’s Petition to Revoke Tolerances,” 2017, avilable at:
“ Press Release, March 29, 2017. Administrator Pruitt Denies Petition to Ban Widely Used Pesticide,”,
Eric Lipton, “E.P.A Chief, Rejecting Agency’s Science, Chooses Not to Ban The New York Times, March 29, 2017. ,”