CalEPA announces ban of chlorpyrifos pesticide

The toxic pesticide will no longer be sold in California after Feb. 6

Kaitlin Washburn  @kwashy12

SACRAMENTO – Chlorpyrifos, a controversial toxic pesticide, was recently banned by the California Environmental Protection Agency, a decision hailed as a victory for environmental and farmworker advocates. 

“For years, environmental justice advocates have fought to get the harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos out of our communities,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news release announcing the decision. “Thanks to their tenacity and the work of countless others, this will now occur faster than originally envisioned. This is a big win for children, workers and public health in California.”

CalEPA made the announcement on Oct. 9 after reaching an agreement between the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation and pesticide manufacturers to cease sales of the pesticide by Feb. 6, 2020, according to the news release. Growers are required to stop possessing and using chlorpyrifos by Dec. 31, 2020. 

Until those deadlines, uses of chlorpyrifos should comply with existing restrictions, such as a ban on aerial sprays and quarter-mile buffer zones. 

“The swift end to the sale of chlorpyrifos protects vulnerable communities by taking a harmful pesticide off the market,” said Jared Blumenfeld, California secretary for environmental protection, in the news release. “This agreement avoids a protracted legal process while providing a clear timeline for California farmers as we look toward developing alternative pest management practices.”

This decision comes after lobbying from environmental advocates and mounting evidence confirming the pesticide is associated with serious health effects in children and other sensitive populations at lower levels than previously understood. Some of the effects are impaired brain and neurological development, according to the news release. 

Earlier this year, the Department of Pesticide Regulation canceled the pesticide’s product registrations, one of the first moves made to ban chlorpyrifos. The department and the California Department of Agriculture have collaborated to find safer and sustainable pest management options. 

The state is offering up millions in grant funding for research on alternative options for growers who use chlorpyrifos. The Department of Pesticide Regulation will award over $2 million to identify and develop safer pest management systems. CDFA will give $2 million to expand outreach about biologically integrated farming systems that reduce chemical insecticides, including chlorpyrifos. 

Chlorpyrifos is used to control pests on a variety of crops, including alfalfa, almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes and walnuts. Use of the pesticide has declined in use over the past decade as California growers have shifted to safer alternatives. Chlorpyrifos use dropped more than 50 percent from two million pounds in 2005 to just over 900,000 pounds in 2017.

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