California bans controversial pesticide linked to health issues in children

The sale of chlorpyrifos will be banned in California beginning Feb. 6, and growers will not be allowed to possess the pesticide beginning in 2021.

By Darryl Coote
The pesticide has been linked to ill effects in children and has also been under federal scrutiny. File Photo by Ken Ritchie/Pixabay/UPI
The pesticide has been linked to ill effects in children and has also been under federal scrutiny. File Photo by Ken Ritchie/Pixabay/UPI

Oct. 10 (UPI) -- California has made an agreement to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide associated with serious health effects in children, the state's environmental agency said.

Under an agreement among the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Pesticide Regulation and manufacturer Dow AgroSciences, sales of chlorpyrifos in the state will end on Feb. 6 and growers will be prohibited from possessing the pesticide on Jan. 1, 2021.


"For years, environmental justice advocates have fought to get the harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos out of our communities," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. "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."

California has been seeking to ban the pesticide for years as evidence shows it's associated with health problems, including impaired brain and neurological development in children. In 2018, the DPR designated chlorpyrifos as a "toxic air contaminant" following a review of the product by the University of California, Irvine.

As part of the agreement, DPR and the California Department of Food and Agriculture have created a working group to recommend safer alternatives for the pesticide used on alfalfa, almonds, citrus and cotton crops. Its first meeting will be held in January.


"The swift end to the sale of chlorpyrifos protects vulnerable communities by taking a harmful pesticide off the market," California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld said. "This agreement avoids a protracted legal process while providing a clear legal process while providing a clear timeline for California farmers as we look toward developing alternative pest management practices."

The pesticide has seen a steady decline in use in California from 2 million pounds in 2005 to a little more than 900,000 in 2017, the CPEA said.

With the ban, California joins Hawaii as the only two states to outlaw the pesticide. Hawaii approved a ban last year, though it will not be implemented until 2020.

Chlorpyrifos has also been under federal scrutiny for years, with a federal court last year telling the EPA to prohibit the pesticide. The decision, however, was overruled in July when the EPA said there's insufficient evidence to support a nationwide prohibition.

Chlorpyrifos was permitted for use in the home until 2000.

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