Opposing Trump's EPA, California bans use of pesticide linked to children's health problems

Oranges on a tree.
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California is the largest user of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, and on Wednesday, the state's Environmental Protection Agency moved to ban it.

Exposure to the chemical has been linked to developmental disorders and neurological damage in people and animals, with children hit especially hard. Unless an opposing party calls for an administrative hearing, the ban will take effect in 15 days. Environmentalists have been calling on the federal EPA to ban the pesticide, and during the Obama administration, the agency produced scientific studies showing the harm chlorpyrifos can cause. Last month, the federal EPA announced it would not ban the pesticide, claiming there was not enough data to show that an unsafe amount of residue is left on treated foods.

California's EPA head, Jared Blumenfeld, said the state went with a full ban because there was no way to keep the public safe and have the chemical still be effective. The federal EPA has "that same science, they have that same legal basis, and yet, based on what appears from the outside to just be politics, they've been foot-dragging — and in fact worse than that, not taking their regulatory role seriously," Blumenfeld told the Los Angeles Times. "We have to step into the void and take action where the federal government has failed to do so."

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State data shows that in 2017, more than 900,000 pounds of pesticide treated a wide range of crops, including grapes, citrus, and alfalfa. Blumenfeld said farmers were made aware a ban would happen one day, as the state has been enacting more and more restrictions. There is a working group now trying to identify alternatives to chlorpyrifos.

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