Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thousands of Americans to EPA: "Ban Chlorpyrifos!"

Today we participated in a nationwide media action calling for the ban of the toxic insecticide chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic insecticide used by the ton in North Carolina agriculture on tobacco, peanuts, corn, apples, peaches and strawberries. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the average annual use of chlorpyrifos in NC is approximately 383,000 pounds--that's roughly 192 tons each year. More information on the human health effects of chlorpyrifos exposure can be found here.

EPA already banned chlorpyrifos in 2001 for indoor use, after it was determined to present risks of health and developmental harm to children exposed to it in the home. However, chlorpyrifos is still registered for use in agriculture, and rural children and their family members are still being exposed.

We've spent the past few months collecting signatures from rural North Carolinians in support of a chlorpyrifos ban, and we'd like to thank every one of you who signed the petition this summer!

For Immediate Release


Ana Duncan Pardo, Toxic-Free North Carolina, (919) 818-5933,
Carol Dansereau, Farm Worker Pesticide Project, 206-729-0498;
Stephenie Hendricks, 415-258-9151,

Chemical Threat: Groups Call for Pesticide Ban
Consumers, Parents, Health Advocates, Farmers, Farm Workers and Others Target Widely Used Pesticides Linked to Attention and Learning Problems

(Raleigh, NC) - 13,000 individuals and organizations from across the country sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today calling for a ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos and a phase out of other organophosphate (OP) pesticides.

“Human studies have now linked prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos with mental and developmental delays emphasizing even more the urgency to remove the product from the market,” said Dr. Theo Colborn, President of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) and a signatory on the letter. “Chlorpyrifos illustrates the urgent need to be cautious, prevent further exposure and protect our children from the time they are conceived onward,” she said.

TEDX also announced today the addition of chlorpyrifos to their publicly-accessible on-line database, “Critical Windows of Development”, spotlighting animal research that links prenatal, low-dose chlorpyrifos exposure to altered health outcomes in the brain and other organs.

Dr. David Carpenter, M.D. and Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany said, “It is unacceptable that farm worker children, and children in the general population continue to be exposed to these neurotoxins.”

“As more families cope with the suffering and costs of learning and developmental disabilities and attention problems, EPA must prevent further exposures to neurotoxic pesticides,” said Maureen Swanson of the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

"The last time EPA reviewed these pesticides, its own scientists complained that the Agency was not assuring adequate protection of the nation's children, and that it was unduly influenced by those it regulates," said Dr. William Hirzy, a professor at American University in Washington D.C. and a former EPA chemist. While at EPA, Hirzy was involved in a letter raising these concerns sent to management by six unions representing 9000 EPA scientists and other staff, as the Agency was finalizing its Cumulative Risk Assessment for organophosphates in 2006. "Five years later, with even more sobering studies in hand, will EPA finally act to protect children?" Hirzy asked.

“The warning signs have been obvious for decades, yet EPA has allowed generation after generation to suffer exposures and consequences,” said Carol Dansereau, Executive Director of the Farm Worker Pesticide Project, a Washington State farm worker organization that initiated the letter to EPA. “EPA is promising to better protect children and other vulnerable people, but that promise is meaningless as long as it keeps reregistering chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates, ” she said. FWPP and others are asking the public to contact EPA and join in demanding a ban, and the implementation of precaution-based policies.

“Unfortunately chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates do not stay where sprayed. They evaporate and move with wind and fog. That’s how they contaminated our fields,” said Larry Jacobs of Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, an organic grower in California. “There are better ways to manage insect pests than depending on organophosphates like chlorpyrifos. We signed onto the letter to EPA to protect our health and to protect our farm.”

EPA is in the process of considering re-registration for chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely used pesticides in agriculture in the US and worldwide.