Wednesday, August 30, 2017 - Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide, acaracide and miticide. Introduced by Dow Chemical Company in 1965, it is sold under many different names, including Dursban, Lorsban, Bolton, Nufos, Hatchet, and Warhawk. It acts on the nervous system of insects by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase.
Nearly two decades' worth of scientific studies—including analyses by the EPA itself—have documented the numerous risks this bug-killer poses to children and pregnant women. Despite these facts, on March 29, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the EPA would reverse a proposed ban on this extremely harmful pesticide and allow it to remain on the market.
What's more, exposure to chlorpyrifos is extremely difficult to avoid. Farmers across the U.S. spray approximately five million pounds of it every year on crops like apples, oranges, broccoli and walnuts.
Part of a family of nerve agents developed during World War II, chlorpyrifos, unsurprisingly, has incredible potential for harm. Research shows that exposure to this pesticide can increase the risk for behavioral issues and serious neurological damage in children, including ADHD, developmental delays and lower IQs. Scientists and doctors consider these neurological effects to be "permanent, irreversible and lifelong."
A November 2016 assessment found unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos residue lurking on some of our favorite fruits, vegetables and nuts—even after they were washed, peeled or cracked. Additionally, many farmworkers and families who live in agricultural communities also encounter the pesticide in the air they breathe and the water they drink.
According to an April 2014 report by the California Department of Public Health, farms spray toxic pesticides within a quarter mile of more than 430 schools in California's Central Valley. And the EPA's 2016 assessment found that air contamination in California's agricultural areas puts pregnant women at risk—levels of chlorpyrifos measured in the air in one town were found to be 44 times higher than what's deemed acceptable.
The EPA proposed a total ban in October 2015 and affirmed the need for the ban last November. Unfortunately Pruitt chose to deny his agency's own scientific conclusions, giving a boost to Dow Chemical and the pesticide industry at the expense of kids across the country.
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