Originally published in the Salinas Californian. Access online at http://www.montereyherald.com/article/NF/20171216/LOCAL1/171219869
Chlorpyrifos, a heavily used pesticide, damages the brain of developing fetuses according to hundreds of studies in the last eight years. On Nov. 29, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) decided the evidence was enough to identify chlorpyrifos as a Proposition 65 reproductive toxicant. This panel of scientists heard lengthy summaries by specialists in neurobiology, toxicology, genetics and epidemiology, a dismissive presentation by Dow Chemical’s team, and then comments from a large number of pesticide reform advocates and community members and parents of affected children from some major ag counties.
The OEHHA panel voted 8-0 in favor of adding chlorpyrifos to the list of hazardous chemicals recognized by the state of California. Neither the current Trump-appointed director of the U.S. EPA or California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation felt the same scientific findings were sufficient to merit a ban this past year despite a 2015 court order for EPA to study this same pesticide to see if it was safe or ban it last March.
Derision and delaying tactics from Dow, a major producer of chlorpyrifos, and dire predictions from Big Ag are expected, not unlike the protests and lawsuits tobacco used for 20+ years to denigrate scientific and public health findings. But this recent ruling is a significant accomplishment in calling attention to the pervasive problems of the thousands of pounds of hazardous chemicals in our soil, water and air and the demand for government action to review, regulate and reduce these threats to living things.