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Focus Area

Pesticides and

Toxic Chemicals

Toxic chemicals surround us. Earthjustice is committed to protecting our health and the environment from these dangerous substances by reforming our government’s broken regulatory system, applying pressure to phase out the most harmful chemicals and advancing sustainable agriculture models.
Sarah Leen / National Geographic Creative

In 2012, Earthjustice successfully intervened in a lawsuit defending the right of government to inform its citizens about dangerous chemicals like styrene, a suspected carcinogen.


Cancer. Reproductive harm. Developmental disorders. The list of illnesses caused by toxic chemicals is as long as the list of flaws in our chemical regulatory policy, which requires the EPA to prove that chemicals in products are unsafe in order to keep them off the shelves. That rarely happens, if ever.


  • REFORMING OUR BROKEN CHEMICAL SYSTEM through work at the federal, state and local level to improve chemical oversight so that people and the environment are aware of and protected from harmful chemicals.
  • TARGETING THE MOST DANGEROUS CHEMICALS through litigation that fights to block particularly harmful substances like flame retardants, toxic pesticides and leaded aviation fuel.
  • ADVANCING SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE through work that limits the use of harmful pesticides in agriculture and promotes sustainable farming models that encourage good stewardship of the earth and its resources.


In 2012, amidst an Earthjustice lawsuit and intense public pressure, the maker of methyl iodide—a cancer-causing pesticide used on strawberries and other crops—pulled the product’s federal registration, ending its use on our food supply. These victories and others ensure that every member of the public—whether farmworker, housewife, 5th grader or stock trader—is protected from exposure to toxic substances.

"We don't want to wait until we have exposed enough people to a chemical in order to prove that it's carcinogenic. When we hit that point, we have hit a failure in the regulatory process." – Dr. Lynn Goldman,
National Research Council Report Review Committee Member

Spotlight Features

The Case of the Vanishing Honey Bee: Pesticides and the Perfect Crime

Since the mid-2000's, the die-off of domesticated bees has been so dramatic that the bee researchers coined a new phrase: Colony Collapse Disorder. What makes these die-offs different is that frequently the bees just vanish. One beekeeper calls this the Perfect Crime: no bodies, no murder weapon, no bees.

Pesticides: The Workplace Hazard The EPA Is Ignoring

Members of the farmworker justice movement are calling on Congress to implement stronger protections for farmworkers from hazardous pesticides. The federal government estimates that there are 10,000–20,000 acute pesticide poisonings among workers in the agricultural industry annually.


Number of people demanding that the EPA implement stronger worker protections for farmworkers, whose jobs often require them to wade through fields soaked with toxic pesticides to pick what we eat.