Court Orders EPA to Decide to Act on Dangerous Pesticide

Agency must decide by month's end whether it will ban nerve gas pesticide


Keith Rushing, Earthjustice, (202) 797-5236

Patti Goldman, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order requiring EPA to decide by June 30, 2015 whether it will ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used and extremely hazardous pesticide. The Court issued the order in response to a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice on behalf of Pesticide Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council.

“It is time for EPA to protect children in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that this pesticide causes brain damage in children,” said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman, who represented the groups in the lawsuit. “EPA has dragged its feet for far too long in the face of harm to children and workers.”

Fourteen years ago, EPA banned residential use of chlorpyrifos because of the harm to children exposed in the home. In 2007, PAN and NRDC filed a petition asking EPA to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos to afford the same protection to rural children exposed through pesticide drift. PAN and NRDC also asked EPA to protect children from reduced IQ, developmental delays, loss of working memory, and other neurological damage caused by early childhood exposures.

When EPA failed to act, the groups went to court to force EPA to act. Each time, EPA promised to take action, but it continually missed its self-imposed deadlines. Two years ago, the 9th Circuit had refused to order EPA to respond in the face of EPA’s promise to decide the petition by February 2014.

In December 2014, EPA completed a human health risk assessment confirming that chlorpyrifos causes harm to children’s brains at extremely low doses. EPA’s assessment also documented unacceptable risks to workers who apply pesticides or pick crops and drinking water contamination at levels that are harmful to children.

More than 150,000 people urged EPA to ban chlorpyrifos in response to the 2014 assessment. EPA must now decide whether to heed these demands for action by the end of the month

A crop duster sprays pesticides over a farmfield.
(Denton Rumsey/Shutterstock)
A crop duster sprays pesticides over a farmfield. (Denton Rumsey / Shutterstock)

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