With a Ban Bill on the Table, California Agency to Evaluate Cancellation of Chlorpyrifos

As cancellation unfolds, nerve agent pesticide use will continue


Greg Loarie, Earthjustice attorney, (415) 217-2000

Today, California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Jared Blumenfeld announced state regulators will begin the process of canceling registrations for pesticides containing chlorpyrifos. This process spearheaded by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation has not been used in recent history and the timing and outcome are unclear.

“We agree with Secretary Blumenfeld that chlorpyrifos is a dangerous pesticide that is poisoning our kids. It’s been like pulling teeth to force DPR to begin the cancellation process for chlorpyrifos,” said Greg Loarie, Earthjustice attorney. “Our concern is that we’ll spend the next several years forcing DPR to finish the process. Until we know that chlorpyrifos is gone for good, we are going to keep pushing as hard as we can in as many places as we can, including in the California Legislature by supporting SB 458.”

The move comes as California State Legislature is considering SB 458, a bill that would ban the nerve agent pesticide, as it is toxic to children. Hawaiʻi and New York have already passed bills banning chlorpyrifos.

Studies show that exposures to chlorpyrifos in infants and children are associated with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders, delayed motor development, even autism. The Environmental Protection Agency also concluded in 2016 that chlorpyrifos is unsafe. Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate that comes from the same chemical family as sarin nerve gas, is used on foods like strawberries, apples, citrus, broccoli, corn, and more. In California alone, over 900,000 pounds of chlorpyrifos was applied in 2016 making it one of the largest users of the pesticide in the country.

Before they can be used in the state, pesticides must be registered by DPR. But California law authorizes DPR to cancel the registration of any pesticide that has “demonstrated serious uncontrollable adverse effects,” or “for which there is a reasonable, effective, and practicable alternate procedure that is demonstrably less destructive to the environment.”

Learn more about chlorpyrifos.

Organophosphates are acutely toxic and associated with neurodevelopmental harms in children
(Austin Valley / CC BY 2.0)
Organophosphates are acutely toxic and associated with neurodevelopmental harms in children (Austin Valley / CC BY 2.0)

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