On Thursday, July 18, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) took a major step backwards in the regulation of toxic chemicals. The EPA order constitutes final agency action that it would not ban the widely used insecticide Chlorpyrifos despite EPA’s own experts having linked it to serious health problems in children (neurodevelopmental effects).  In multiple epidemiological studies, Chlorpyrifos exposure during gestation or childhood has been linked with lower birth weight and neurological changes such as slower motor development and attention problems. Children with prenatal exposures to Chlorpyrifos have been shown to have lower IQs.  Children have also been shown to have a higher chance of developing autism, attention deficit problems, and developmental disorders.

On March 29, 2017, the EPA had denied a 2007 petition from the Pesticide Action Network North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council seeking to revoke all registrations for Chlorpyrifos.  Objections were filed by Earthjustice on behalf of 12 public interest groups, the North Rivers Alliance, and the states of California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, and Vermont.

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate  pesticide used on crops, animals, and buildings, and in other settings, to kill a number of pests, including insects and worms. It acts on the nervous systems of insects by inhibiting the acetylcholinesterase enzyme. Chlorpyrifos was patented in 1966 by Dow Chemical Company.   Most home uses of Chlorpyrifos were banned in the U.S. in 2001.

EPA is Not Consumer Friendly

This is the second time this year that the EPA has issued a decision favoring industry and eliminating chemical safety rules.  In April 2019, the EPA also disregarded the advice of its own experts and issued a rule that restricted but did not ban Asbestos, a known carcinogen. Its own scientists and lawyers had urged the E.P.A. to ban asbestos outright, as do most other industrialized nations.

How Dow Chemical Influenced the EPA to Ignore the Scientific Evidence on Chlorpyrifos