December 20, 2017


State health agency adds chlorpyrifos to most dangerous chemicals list


On Nov. 29, one of California’s leading independent scientific bodies unanimously declared that the insecticide chlorpyrifos is a developmental toxicant, strengthening the case for local restrictions on the chemical’s use and statewide action to take it off the market.

Angel Garcia with Californians for Pesticide Reform —  a diverse, statewide coalition of over 190 member groups working to strengthen pesticide policies in California to protect public health and the environment — said the insecticide is still widely used in agriculture across the state (and country), but noted that now it is officially listed with other health-harming chemicals under Proposition 65, the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.”

This decision, Garcia said, comes more than a decade after the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee first took the chemical under consideration. After reviewing more than 81 new scientific studies since 2008, and over 300 in total, the committee decided the weight of the evidence supports listing chlorpyrifos as a developmental toxicant.

Garcia said the listing is now official and will be effective in one year. In addition, Garcia said certain products will have to bear the Proposition 65 label. As California officials at the Department of Pesticide Regulation move forward with additional review of the chemical, Garcia said the recent decision by independent scientists will make it increasingly difficult to avoid banning chlorpyrifos from use on food crops.

Benny Corona, the social media coordinator for Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety — a Tulare County-based coalition of local non-profits, community leaders and residents committed to safer pesticide policies — said “You will not find one career farmworker that has not been exposed to pesticides in the workplace. Some exposure has been overt like the many that were sickened earlier this year in Bakersfield by chlorpyrifos. The designation of chlorpyrifos as a developmental toxicant by a distinguished board of scientists reconfirms something that is already self-evident.”

Garcia said over one million pounds of chlorpyrifos are used in California each year on a variety of fruit, nut and vegetable crops. He said pregnant women and children, particularly those living near agricultural fields, are often exposed to the chemcial through the air and on food they eat. Recognizing the clear body of science showing harm, Garcia said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was slated to ban the chemical on all food crops until incoming EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed that decision earlier this year.

Kathy Faulkner, a concerned grandmother and health advocate, said “If chlorpyrifos is not labeled or people do not know about its effect on unborn children, we will continue impacting human lives by using chemicals that are not safe. Think of your future grandchildren and the future of our nation.”

Raul Garcia, who sits as the outreach coordinator for Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety, said “The classification of chlorpyrifos as a neurological and developmental toxin under the Prop. 65 shows that the state is ready to move on with more directed action concerning the regulation of this pesticide. I believe that the next step in this regulatory process concerning chlorpyrifos should be a state-wide ban.”