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Senators Send Letter to EPA on Chlorpyrifos

August 7, 2019, 12:33 PM HST (Updated August 7, 2019, 12:33 PM)
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Earlier this week, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), along with several colleagues in the Senate, sent a correspondence to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging him to reconsider the decision not to ban chlorpyrifos.

The chemical is a toxic pesticide linked to brain damage in children and known to cause serious harm to human health, a release from Sen. Hirono’s office stated. In the letter, the senators ask the EPA to reverse its decision and place a ban on chlorpyrifos immediately in the interest of protecting public health.

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“The EPA has repeatedly found that chlorpyrifos harms children’s brains at exposures far lower than what the EPA allows,” the letter said. “Nevertheless, it refuses to ban this pesticide supposedly because the agency is currently unable to pinpoint the precise exposures that cause this harm. Additionally, the EPA’s rejection of the petition to ban chlorpyrifos has been accompanied by a new argument in which the EPA contends that the prohibition on allowing a pesticide to be on our food in the absence of an affirmative EPA safety finding does not apply to its action on public petitions. The EPA apparently now seeks to cast aside public input from its work to protect public health.”

“Additionally, chlorpyrifos threatens agricultural workers who apply the pesticide,” the senators continued. “Farm workers are exposed to chlorpyrifos from mixing, handling, and applying the pesticide, as well as from entering fields where chlorpyrifos was recently sprayed. Chlorpyrifos is one of the pesticides most often linked to acute pesticide poisonings, and in many states that monitor pesticide poisonings, it is regularly identified among the five pesticides linked to the highest number of pesticide poisoning incidents. This is significant given widespread under-reporting of pesticide poisonings due to such factors as inadequate reporting systems, fear of retaliation from employers and reluctance to seek medical treatment.”

In July, the EPA announced it would not ban the chemical, but rather would monitor the safety of chlorpyrifos through 2020.

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