Quantcast

Health Professionals Demand Ban of Neurotoxic Chemical

Pesticide Action Network

As children settle into the new school year, health professionals are demanding that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ban the neurotoxic chemical chlorpyrifos—a pesticide used on farms throughout the country and the same chemical that the agency banned some ten years ago for use in homes.

In a letter submitted to the EPA Oct. 6, more than two dozen health professionals cite new science showing the health impacts of chlorpyrifos, including lowering IQs and an increased risk of ADHD and learning disabilities among children.

“EPA should follow the science and take this brain toxin completely off the market,” said Dr. David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health & The Environment, University at Albany. “Chlorpyrifos poses serious threats to children’s health and doesn’t belong in our homes, on our farms or on our cafeteria trays.”

The recent studies show that exposure to chlorpyrifos in the womb and in early childhood, during critical development windows, can lead to lasting effects on the brain. Researchers now say that as many as 25 percent of all U.S. children may have IQs several points lower due to eating foods treated with chlorpyrifos and similar pesticides.

“Fruits and vegetables are essential for healthy children but shouldn't be grown with chlorpyrifos,”said Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, and one of the letter’s signatories. “Children in rural communities face a double dose of this brain poison. They are exposed to chlorpyrifos drifting from neighboring fields, and again when the pesticide is on their food.”

Chlorpyrifos was banned for use in homes more than 10 years ago because of its potential harm to children. But 10 million pounds of chlorpyrifos are still used on agricultural fields each year. Air monitoring, biomonitoring and poisoning data confirm that extensive human exposure to chlorpyrifos is linked to its continued use in agriculture. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control,the vast majority of us—including children—carry breakdown products of the chemical in our bodies.

Children living in farm communities are at especially high risk. In addition to exposure from food, they may also be breathing in particles that drift into their classrooms and homes from nearby farms. Farmworker children are at an even higher risk as parents sometimes carry residues of the pesticide home at the end of the day on clothing and shoes.

“Chlorpyrifos drift poses serious threats to communities like mine,” said Luis Medellin, of the community organization El Quinto Sol de America. Luis grew up in homes next to farms using chlorpyrifos in California’s San Joaquin Valley. “The realities on the ground show that this brain toxin can’t be used safely and should not be used in the fields.”

At age 17, Medellin began using Pesticide Action Network’s drift catcher to document chemical drift from neighboring citrus fields, finding that a majority of samples contained chlorpyrifos. Residents also sampled chlorpyrifos in their urine, and all but one had levels above what the EPA considers acceptable.

In their letter to the EPA, health professionals demanded that they ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. They state:

We urge EPA to act now on the weight of scientific evidence of health harms of chlorpyrifos for children and fetuses. It is time that EPA take action to protect the public health and provide a healthy legacy for our children and for future generations. We call on EPA to cancel all uses of pesticide chlorpyrifos.

Other letters with a similar demand were delivered to the EPA from environmental health groups nationwide, including a petition signed by more than 6,000 concerned citizens across the country.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of icebergs on Arctic Ocean in Greenland. Explora_2005 / iStock / Getty Images

The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less

YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less