Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network

EPA finds widespread risk from neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos while California stalls


For Immediate Release: November 11, 2016

Sacramento, CA – Yesterday afternoon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) affirmed earlier scientific findings that the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos should be banned from use on food crops, due to health risks from contaminated drinking water and residues on food.  This finding highlights the urgent need for action in California to protect children, agricultural workers and communities in California.

Over one million pounds of chlorpyrifos – approximately 20% of total use in the United States – are applied in California each year on a wide range of fruit, vegetable and nut crops. Independent studies increasingly link prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos, primarily manufactured by Dow Chemical Co., to negative impacts on neurodevelopment, including poorer perceptual reasoning, working memory and intellectual development in children.

Over 100 organizations – led by Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) – and thousands of Californians have appealed to Governor Jerry Brown to ban the use of the chemical in the state over the past few years, given the mounting evidence of health risks, heavy use in proximity to California schools and frequent detections in the state’s pesticide air monitors.

Health, environmental and farmworker organizations continue to press the governor and the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to build on EPA’s analysis, taking into account the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) critical review, as well as the department’s understanding of pesticide drift, when finalizing the risk assessment for the chemical.

Martha Dina Arguello, director of Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles and chair of the steering committee of Californians for Pesticide Reform said, “EPA’s findings should light a fire under DPR to complete their long overdue risk assessment and incorporate findings that protect kids in schools and daycares from nearby use of this potent neurotoxicant. Continued use in California threatens to impair cognition and derail development for children, particularly Latino, in communities across the state.”  

Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, MPH, staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council said, “DPR can no longer ignore the science showing real risk to Californians from the continued use of chlorpyrifos. The Department must revise the draft risk characterization to be consistent with EPA’s analysis and remedy the flaws identified in the state’s review which underestimated risk.”

Anne Katten, MPH, worker safety specialist at California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation stated, “Farmworkers bear the brunt of exposure to drift and residues in the field as well as in their food. It’s time for California to act on EPA’s evidence and address the risks that farmworkers and their families face from neurotoxic chlorpyrifos.”


Media Contact: Paul Towers, PAN, 916-216-1082 or

Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network is dedicated to advancing alternatives to pesticides worldwide. Follow @pesticideaction

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