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Ban organophosphates

Delivery to EPA Administrator Michael Regan

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What’s At Stake

In August, the EPA listened to farmworker groups, public health advocates, its own scientists, and 50,000 Earthjustice supporters who called on it to ban the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos. This victory was more than a decade in the making and could not have happened without the persistence of advocates who held the government accountable for its responsibility to keep toxics out of our bodies. But chlorpyrifos is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s just one chemical in a class of nerve-agent pesticides called organophosphates, which, like chlorpyrifos, are deeply harmful to children’s brain development and toxic to farmworkers. Join us in calling on the EPA to ban organophosphates.

As with chlorpyrifos, the EPA has documented how harmful these pesticides are, but has done nothing to prevent the harm. On November 18, 2021, we took action to compel the agency to act responsibly. Earthjustice and partners filed a petition (a type of legal request) for the EPA to ban organophosphates. The EPA doesn’t have a choice — it has a legal obligation to protect children’s health — but we’ll be there to hold it accountable should it try to prioritize pesticide profits ahead of public health.

Organophosphates are acutely neurotoxic — meaning that people who are exposed at high doses over a brief period can experience severe neurological symptoms — and are linked to reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders in children at low levels of exposure. Organophosphate residue is commonly found on our produce, including leafy greens, berries, and fruits. People living near fields where organophosphate pesticides are used can experience dangerous levels of oral and skin exposure. The only way to eliminate continued exposure is to ban all organophosphates as quickly as possible. The EPA is a public health agency, and we are going to do everything in our power to hold it accountable to its legal obligation to protect farmworkers, children, and communities. Continue the fight by calling on the EPA to comply with the petition and ban organophosphates.

Austin Valley / CC BY 2.0

Organophosphates are highly toxic to children.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.