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Legislation Introduced to Protect Children From Pesticides

December 17, 2018, 1:51 PM HST (Updated December 17, 2018, 1:51 PM)
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Sen. Brian Schatz introduced a bill to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that is hazardous to humans, particularly children on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. The Prohibit Chlorpyrifos Poisoning Students Act would take Hawai‘i’s state ban to the national level, banning the use of the chemical near schools in 2019 and banning its sale and distribution altogether the following year.

“My bill would take Hawai‘i’s state ban nationwide, so all of our children are protected no matter where they live or go to school,” Sen. Schatz said.

Hawai‘i became the first state to ban chlorpyrifos in June this year, when Govenor Ige signed legislation that will go into effect after 2022. Two months after the bill became law, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the chemical in the United States. The EPA is contesting the ruling.

“Earthjustice commends Senator Schatz for his efforts to craft legislation to protect children, farmworkers and families from some of the most toxic pesticides in the United States,” said Andrea Delgado, legislative director of the Healthy Communities Program at Earthjustice. “This proposal would ban chlorpyrifos—a dangerous pesticide known to damage our children’s developing brains—and establish new, sensible safeguards that prevent the spraying of toxic pesticides near schools, while requiring transparency and notification about the use of pesticides in our communities. It’s an important step forward for the health of all people, especially farmworkers and people in agricultural communities who bear the brunt of exposure to pesticide applications.”

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“We appreciate Senator Schatz and his colleagues for their work to ban chlorpyrifos and prevent the spraying of dangerous pesticides that harm children’s brains and impair learning and behavior,” said Maureen Swanson, director of the Healthy Children Project at the Learning Disabilities Association of America. “Unfortunately, when it comes to chlorpyrifos, EPA is siding with the chemical industry against public health. Congress must act where EPA will not.”

The dangers of chlorpyrifos are well-known. It was banned in homes in 2000 because of the toxic threat it presents, especially to children. A 2016 assessment by the EPA found that children ages 1-2 were exposed to levels of the pesticide that are 140 times more than what the EPA deems safe. It also found unsafe levels of the chemical in the air at schools, homes, and communities in agricultural areas. The chemical is used on golf courses and farms and for mosquito control.

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