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Farmworker advocates ask EPA for immediate ban on pesticide chlorpyrifos

Washington – United Farm Workers and several community health groups have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately suspend widespread use of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide already acknowledged to pose poisoning risks to workers.

An EPA assessment released in January 2015 found that chlorpyrifos exposure puts pesticide workers at risk of nausea, dizziness, confusion, respiratory paralysis and death.

EPA already has instituted several measures to reduce chlorpyrifos use. In 2000, the agency banned the use of all chlorpyrifos products on tomatoes in the United States and limited its use on apple trees. Two years later, the agency restricted use of the pesticide on citrus, tree nuts and other crops. In 2012, EPA further limited chlorpyrifos use by reducing pesticide application rates and implementing “no spray” buffer zones around public spaces, recreational areas and homes.

EPA is considering the petition, filed by Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice on behalf of other organizations. A final decision must be made by March 31, 2017, per a recent order handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court.

“Farmworkers are simply seeking what others have in this country – a safe workplace. Nothing more, nothing less,” Ramon Ramirez, president of Oregon farmworker union Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, said in a Sept. 21 press release. “EPA must stop putting on the blinders when it comes to the harmful effects chlorpyrifos and take this hazardous pesticide out of all fields and other locations to ensure a safe workplace for all.”

Other groups supporting the petition include the League of United Latin American Citizens, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Hispanic Medical Association, and Learning Disabilities Association of America.

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