Farmworker Justice is pressuring EPA to ban the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The organization is collecting signatures on a petition supporting the ban. The petition notes that chlorpyrifos can cause dizziness, vomiting, convulsions, numbness in the limbs, loss of intellectual functioning, respiratory paralysis, and death. Farmworker Justice plans to send the petition to EPA and key members of Congress.
According to EPA, chlorpyrifos has been in use since 1965 and is registered with various limitations, such as “restricting entry into treated fields for 24 hours up to five days.” Use of the pesticide has been at issue for a number of years. In 1996, EPA recognized the need to contain chlorpyrifos exposure after the Food Quality Protection Act created more stringent safety standards. In 2000, EPA reached an agreement with registrants of chlorpyrifos to eliminate, phase out, and modify certain uses. In 2002, EPA created buffer zones for using chlorpyrifos and increased the personal protective equipment requirement for application. In 2011, EPA complete a comprehensive preliminary human health risk assessment for all chlorpyrifos uses and revised the assessment in 2014. In 2012, EPA further restricted aerial application and created “no-spray” zones. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered EPA to ban chlorpyrifos within 60 days in August 2018, but the Department of Justice requested a rehearing, which was granted on February 6, 2019, effectively vacating the earlier ruling.
Until February 3, 2021, EPA is accepting public comment on a proposed interim decision on chlorpyrifos that was released in December 2020. EPA’s proposed interim decision recognizes the need for precautions in the use of chlorpyrifos. The proposed interim decision asserts that all pesticides registered by EPA follow FIFRA mandates that ensure that proper use, as directed by the product label, will not cause unreasonable risks to health.