For Immediate Release: May 5, 2017
Bakersfield, CA - A pesticide that was slated to be banned by US EPA earlier this year because of its links to neurological harms, appears to have sickened one-dozen workers earlier this morning and sent one to the hospital, according to early news reports.
Workers in a cabbage field south of Bakersfield were exposed to Vulcan (primary ingredient: chlorpyrifos) applied to a neighboring mandarin orchard that appears to have persisted in the air after its application and to have drifted onto the workers. Researchers, including those at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, have linked exposure to the chemical to developmental delays and diminished IQ in children. Chlorpyrifos is primarily manufactured by Dow Chemical Co.
California officials at the Department of Pesticide Regulation and Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are currently reviewing the risks of the pesticide and considering action on the pesticide by year's end.
"EPA failed to protect farmworkers and rural families when Secretary Pruitt ignored the science and scrapped the agency's proposed ban of chlorpyrifos earlier this year," said Valerie Gorospe, an organizer with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment who visited the scene of the incident this morning. "Today's incident is further evidence that California officials should stand up to Dow Chemical, ban this brain-harming pesticide and invest in sustainable farming in California. While this incident may garner headlines, communities across California will continue to be exposed to a pesticide that contaminates their air, water and food on a daily basis."