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After a protracted legal battle, the EPA published a final rule on August 18, 2021, banning the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on food, effective in six months. The rule revokes all “tolerances” for the chemical, referring to the amount that is allowed to remain in or on a food.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that has long been used on a wide variety of food crops, including strawberries, apples, citrus, broccoli, and corn. It has been found to inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, leading to neurotoxicity. The pesticide has been linked to neurological problems in children, including reduced IQ, impaired working memory, developmental delays, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It can also lead to respiratory disorders and diminished lung function.
Approximately five to eight million pounds of chlorpyrifos are currently being sprayed on crops each year, putting farm workers and their families at increased risk of harm and exposing the residents of nearby communities to agricultural runoff and drifting dust from the fields.
EPA administrator Michael S. Regan commented: “Today EPA is taking an overdue step to protect public health. Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide.”
Sources: EPA takes action to address risk from chlorpyrifos and protect children’s health. United States Environmental Protection Agency, August 18, 2021. epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-takes-action-address-risk-chlorpyrifos-and-protect-childrens-health.
The chlorpyrifos ban is a win for science—and children. Natural Resources Defense Council, September 17, 2021. nrdc.org/stories/chlorpyrifos-ban-win-science-and-children.
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Fall 2021 | Volume 45, Number 3
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