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Environmental connections to public health >>

EPA sued over potentially dangerous pesticide

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

When a CDC website describes the possible medical effect of a pesticide like this

...may produce a variety of effects on the nervous system including headaches, blurred vision, watering of the eyes (called lacrimation), excessive salivation, runny nose, dizziness, confusion, muscle weakness or tremors, nausea, diarrhea, and sudden changes in heart rate...

It seems sensible to think that maybe the government would move to ban it.

In the case of chlorpyrifos, the pesticide whose possible side effects are described above, a ban was enacted on the chemical's indoor use. But last summer, disregarding their own calls for further research into the effects of the pesticide, the EPA reauthorized its agricultural use.

Yesterday a coalition of farmworker advocates filed suit against the EPA. According to the suit, the EPA's continued allowance of chlorpyrifos constitutes a violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Given that the EPA has acknowledged that chlorpyrifos can cause "paralysis and death" in high doses, I'd say the reauthorization also constitutes a glaring disregard for farmworker health and safety. Says attorney Shelley Davis, "With safer alternatives already in widespread use, the EPA has betrayed the trust of the men, women, and children whose health it is supposed to protect."

Incidentally, the Fairness Amendment to the House Agricultural Committee's version of the Farm Bill would have "required more complete reporting of pesticide use in agriculture," a move that was supported by many of those involved in the lawsuit.

Read more: Seattle Times, AP, Wired Science

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