The pesticide the EPA knows harms children but approved anyway

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California and some other states have moved to ban the chemical from agricultural use because of the health risks, but the federal government has denied longstanding petitions from environmental groups.

"Farmworker Justice, one of the organizations that is a plaintiff in the litigation, condemned the EPA's decision and plans to continue to seek justice in the courts for farmworkers and their children who are exposed to this highly toxic pesticide that has been banned for household use", Bruce Goldstein, president of Farmworker Justice told the Indiana Environmental Reporter in a statement. As for the EPA, it says it will continue to review chlorpyrifos and will once again make a decision in 2022.

"EPA has decided that their objections should be denied as a result of the information available are usually not sufficiently valid, complete or reliable to meet petitioners' burden to present proof demonstrating that the tolerances usually are not safe", the company stated in an announcement on Thursday.

A pesticide is being used on citrus fruits.

Environmental health experts say there's evidence that exposure to even low levels of chlorpyrifos through conventional produce can lead to developmental and cognitive problems in infants and children and that they haven't found a safe level for children or pregnant women. The decision was in response to a petition from environmental and public health groups. The scientific evidence warranted a ban from agricultural use just as the chemical was banned from household use almost two decades ago because of the known dangers, the agency found.

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The EPA began the process to ban chlorpyrifos in 2015, but the effort was stopped by the Trump administration.

"To me, this starts the clock on the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops in the United States", says Kevin Minoli, a former senior EPA attorney, in an interview with the Associate Press.

Catherine Karr, a pediatric environmental medicine specialist at the University of Washington, said doctors are concerned about what happens when the vulnerable, developing brain is exposed to chemicals like chlorpyrifos.

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. Last year, Hawaii became the first state to prohibit its use, and NY and California have followed suit.

The industry welcomed the EPA's decision Thursday, even as manufacturers of the pesticide acknowledged that its approved uses could change over time, as researchers gather more data.Gregg Schmidt, a Corteva spokesman, said the company supports "critical uses of chlorpyrifos" while the EPA continues to review the pesticide and the scientific data around it. NY lawmakers recently approved legislation to ban the pesticide by December 1, 2021. EPA claims there was a lack of evidence of neurological damages to humans from chlorpyrifos. "We will continue to fight until chlorpyrifos is banned and children and farmworkers are safe from this unsafe chemical".

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