Today, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and partners took the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back to court over the widely-used pesticide chlorpyrifos. Last week, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the agency was reversing course on a planned withdrawal of the chemical, ignoring the findings and recommendations of the agency’s own scientists. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to many health hazards, and is known to be particularly damaging to children’s developing brains.
Lawyers at Earthjustice representing PAN are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to direct EPA to act within 30 days to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos, based on the agency’s repeated findings that the pesticide is unsafe.
PAN’s policy director Kristin Schafer commented on today’s action:
EPA’s stunning reversal on chlorpyrifos in the face of overpowering scientific evidence of harm to children signals yet another dereliction of duty under the Trump administration. If it takes a court order for EPA to stand up to pressure from Dow’s lobbyists and do right by children and their families, then so be it.
We work with rural families in communities across the country who are regularly exposed to this and other dangerous pesticides. They have a right to air and water that is not contaminated with chemicals known to put their children’s health at risk — and we think this should take precedence over Dow’s bottom line.”
In 2012 Bonnie Wirtz, a beginning farmer in Minnesota, was exposed to chlorpyrifos drift from a nearby alfalfa field when she was at home with her infant Jayden. She and Jayden were rushed to the hospital with acute symptoms from the exposure. Bonnie moved to St. Paul after the incident, leaving the farm specifically because of concerns over drift, and began advocating for reduced use of child-harming pesticides across the state.
This decision by the EPA does not make any sense. We know this pesticide is harming our children and it is the EPA's job to protect us from chemicals like this. The fact that they would put the interests of one chemical corporation over the health of families like mine is frustrating.
By leaving this chemical on the market we are gambling with the lives of children and their long term well-being and they have no choice in the matter. That's reckless and heartbreaking.”