Commodities & Metals

US EPA Inches Closer to Ban on Pesticide Chlorpyrifos


It has been nearly 15 years since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the insecticide chlorpyrifos for residential use. On Wednesday, the comment period ended for a total ban on the use of chlorpyrifos.

Since the ban on residential use, chlorpyrifos has been used on a variety of agricultural crops, and in 2007 an administrative petition was filed by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) requesting a ban on chlorpyrifos. In October 2015, a federal appeals court ruled that EPA had to get off the dime and issue a full and final response to the petition.

The pesticide is manufactured by the AgroSciences division of Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) and sold under several brand names, the most common of which are Dursban and Lorsban. Dow is currently shopping its AgroSciences business as the company works on a merger with DuPont.

In a press release issued Tuesday, an Earthjustice attorney noted:

A total ban on chlorpyrifos is what farmworkers, agricultural communities and all consumers deserve. EPA’s and other independent findings show that chlorpyrifos causes brain damage to children and poisons workers and bystanders. It is imperative that EPA move quickly to protect workers and children by issuing a final and total ban to this widely-used pesticide.

In January of last year, the EPA released for public comment its assessment of the potential for human health risk from the use of chlorpyrifos:

In 2000, EPA banned household uses of chlorpyrifos, with the exception of ant and roach bait in child-resistant packaging. Between 2000 and 2002 EPA cancelled the use of chlorpyrifos on tomatoes and restricted use on crops including apples, citrus and tree nuts. In 2012, EPA imposed “no-spray” buffer zones around public spaces, including recreational areas and homes, and significantly lowered pesticide application rates.

On the other side of the issue, cotton farmers have raised questions about the EPA’s process in proposing a total ban of chlorpyrifos, which they say is used to control a variety of insects on cotton and other crops.

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