Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, July 11, 2017

Contact:  Mark Weller, Californians for Pesticide Reform, (831) 325-1681,
Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network, (916) 216-1082,
Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7118,  

Sacramento Rally to Focus on Banning Chlorpyrifos in California

Trump EPA Cancelled Planned Federal Ban of Brain-damaging Pesticide

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Farmworkers, residents and public-interest groups will rally at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the California Environmental Protection Agency offices in support of a state ban of the dangerous, brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos. They will deliver a petition with more than 164,000 signatures and a letter signed by at least 75 organizations calling for a ban on the chemical.

More than 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos are used every year in California on dozens of crops, putting the health of farmworkers and their families — especially young children — at great risk from the pesticide's well-documented harms. Five million pounds of chlorpyrifos are used in the United States every year on crops such as almonds, walnuts, grapes, broccoli, oranges, corn, peanuts, plums and wheat.

“We've known for a couple of decades now that chlorpyrifos is unsafe for kids,” said Carole Erickson, a registered nurse and public-health nurse who co-chairs the Safe Ag Safe Schools coalition in the Monterey Bay area. “If it's too dangerous to use at home, it's too dangerous to spray near places where people live, work and play.”

The U.S. EPA had been on the verge of banning the pesticide nationwide under the Obama administration. But on March 29, Trump's EPA administrator Scott Pruitt defied his own scientists and reversed the decision, allowing ongoing use of the dangerous pesticide.

“Because the Trump administration is more interested in protecting polluters than the health of our families and environment, California must take the lead in protecting us,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The only way to prevent this from poisoning us is to ban all uses of it, period.”

What: Rally to urge the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to ban chlorpyrifos
When: 11 a.m to 1 p.m., Wednesday, July 12
Where: State EPA offices, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, Calif., 95812 
Who: Farmworker groups, citizens, and public-health and conservation groups, including Californians for Pesticide Reform and the Center for Biological Diversity
Details: Event will include a rally and petition delivery followed by a march.

Because of its confirmed health risks, especially to the brain development of young children, chlorpyrifos was banned for home use more than 15 years ago.

  • Recent studies show that the children of mothers exposed to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy are three times as likely to develop autism and face potential IQ loss by age 7. 
  • Chlorpyrifos exposure from drift can also trigger asthma and decrease children's lung function, equivalent to being exposed to household secondhand smoke. 
  • U.S. EPA scientists have found that chlorpyrifos residue on food can be up to 140-fold above the agency's acceptable “level of concern,” regardless of whether fruits and vegetables such as apples and oranges have been washed and peeled.
  • A recent study at the University of California at Berkeley found that 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested had detectable levels of chlorpyrifos.
  • The U.S. EPA has found that 97 percent of all U.S. endangered species are likely to be harmed by chlorpyrifos. Under pressure from Dow Chemical, makers of chlorpyrifos and major donors to the Trump inauguration, the agency is currently considering scrapping efforts to protect endangered species from the pesticide.

Pruitt's refusal to implement the ban leaves the health of California's children and communities in the hands of state decision-makers, namely the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

Californians for Pesticide Reform is a statewide coalition of more than 190 organizations to protect public health, improve environmental quality and expand a sustainable and just agriculture system by building a diverse movement across California to change statewide and local pesticide policies and practices.

Pesticide Action Network North America challenges the global proliferation of pesticides, defends basic rights to health and environmental quality, and works to ensure the transition to a just and viable food system.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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