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Court Urged to Overturn EPA Refusal to Ban Pesticide

By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The EPA must be ordered to ban a pesticide known to cause brain damage in children. That’s the message delivered to a federal court on Monday.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard final arguments in a lawsuit challenging former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision not to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used on fruits and vegetables across the country.

According to Maureen Swanson, director of the Healthy Children’s Project for the Learning Disabilities Association of American, Pruitt disregarded years of verifiable research into the dangers of the chemical.

“The decision to ignore the science and EPA’s own scientists really puts children across the country at increased risk for learning developmental disorders,” she says.

Seven states have joined in the lawsuit. In its 2017 decision, the EPA claimed the science on chlorpyrifos is “unresolved” and said it would continue to study the issue until 2022.

Although Pennsylvania is not among the states with the most agricultural use of chlorpyrifos, Swanson points out that many of the fruits and vegetables sold here come from states where the pesticide is used extensively.

“The EPA found that the residues of chlorpyrifos on fruits and vegetables in the grocery stores are above levels that EPA had initially thought were safe,” she notes.

Studies have linked chlorpyrifos to a risk of reduced IQ, loss of working memory and attention deficit disorders.

Swanson adds that there already are restrictions on the use of the pesticide that have been in place for years.

“Chlorpyrifos was banned for residential use almost 20 years ago,” says Swanson. “And so, if it’s not safe to be used in our homes, it’s certainly not safe to be used on our food.”

Last month, Hawaii banned the agricultural use of chlorpyrifos.

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