Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide originally developed by German scientists for chemical warfare and not farm use. However, since the 1960s, the chemical has been widely used for agricultural purposes to battle pests in grapes, apples, strawberries, corn, broccoli, and wheat. Chlorpyrifos battles pests by working on the nervous system of pests inhabiting the acetylcholinesterase enzyme.
In July 2018, a study conducted by the University of California found the pesticide to be a toxic air contaminant and linked it to the developmental neurotoxicity in children and the growth of autism when expectant mothers are exposed to the insecticide. In a sequence of suits in 2016 and 2019, Earthjustice and other organizations pushed for banning all foods that use Chlorpyrifos without success. However, in 2021 the ninth circuit court of appeals ruled against EPA, giving them a deadline to ban all food uses of the pesticide.
So, if you have a child who has sustained injuries after consuming food contaminated with the Chlorpyrifos pesticide, you must reach out to Consumer Alert Now to help you find legal representation and pursue the compensation you deserve by filing a lawsuit.
Overview of Chlorpyrifos Pesticide
As mentioned in the introduction, Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxic organophosphate pesticide found in farm yields primarily developed for chemical warfare by the Nazis. Today, the chemical is extensively used in the United States to kill various agricultural pets. It’s also used to exterminate mosquitos and ants. Some people even use the chemical to treat fences.
Reviews by scientific panels have found the chemical extremely toxic and link it with neurodevelopmental issues among children. Prenatal exposure to the chemical has been associated with low birth weights, delayed motor development, working memory loss, low IQ, and attention disorders.
The study by the University of California further showed that the chemical was more dangerous than previously perceived and can have severe health effects on children resulting in impaired brain development.
How Does Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Work?
Chlorpyrifos pesticide causes serious harm if eaten in foods, gulped, or touched during spraying and application. When the chemical is introduced into the body, it causes severe poisoning that shuts down or suppresses the enzymes that regulate communication among nerve cells. If these enzymes collapse, the nerve impulses are no longer regulated and can cause malfunctions like seizures, or respirational paralysis, ultimately ending the pests' life.
Note that children are more vulnerable to the chemical as they take more water for their weight and touch the mouth a lot, increasing the risk of exposure.
Ways People Are Exposed To Chlorpyrifos
Individuals are exposed to the chemical through contaminated foods and drinks, and when they touch or breathe the toxic spray if it drifts during spraying or application touching the skin or the eyes.
People at great risk of exposure to toxic pesticides are farmworkers whose job involves mixing, applying, and spraying the chemical. Also, farmworkers are exposed to the chemicals when they enter a field recently sprayed with the pesticide. Some pest baits at home are also made using Chlorpyrifos hence the source of the exposure.
Many consumers of the product are disposed to suffering harm from the pesticide, considering its widespread usage since the 1960s. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the chemical in homesteads in the 2000s after the chemical was discovered to have serious effects on children.
Chlorpyrifos exposure can occur due to the consumption of contaminated well water. The contamination occurs if the farm being sprayed with the chemical is near a well or the products used in applying the pesticide are used close to a river.
Symptoms to Look Out for After Chlorpyrifos Exposure
Just like the pesticide was developed for pest control, that is how it works on pets, animals, and human beings. The symptoms will begin to appear up to an hour after the exposure, and the effects can go on for days or weeks. When you experience these symptoms, the body tries to suppress enzymes or stimulants in the nerve cells to prevent malfunctioning. When exposed to low levels of the chemical, the common side effects you might experience are:
- Runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
- Extreme sweating
When exposed to large amounts of the pesticide, the side effects are severer, and they include:
- Blurry vision
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle twitching
- Loss of coordination because of suppressed sending of messages between nerve cells
Sometimes the poisoning or the nerves can be extreme, and this could result in the following symptoms:
- Breathing problems
- Problems controlling the bladder or bowel
Effects of the Exposure to Human
Chlorpyrifos itself isn’t toxic. It only becomes toxic when the body tries to dismember it, creating a toxin that suppresses the stimulants or enzymes responsible for regulating nerve impulses. When excess exposure happens, the nerve cells can’t send messages. The body counters the effects of the poisoning by making more enzymes. If the chemical had not made its way to the nervous system after exposure, the body would excrete it after several days. However, if the nerve cells were already poisoned, it would take longer to excrete the pesticide.
The 2018 research by the University of California found that prenatal exposure to the pesticide caused developmental neurotoxicity among children causing developmental delays, attention, hyperactivity, and deficit disorders.
The study found that children are hypersensitive to exposure than adults due to the unique chemical breakdown in their bodies. Also, children frequently touch their mouths using hands and have a larger skin surface area than the body hence the high sensitivity compared to adults.
What are the Effects of Chlorpyrifos on the Surroundings?
When the pesticide percolates into the ground, its breakdown might take weeks or even years to be dismembered by soil chemicals and ultraviolet light from the sun. The breakdown duration depends on the soil temperature and PH levels, so the process takes longer in acidic and basic soils.
Although the chemical stays in the soil for long, plant roots do not fetch it, meaning it doesn’t easily seep into the groundwater. However, the contaminated soil can be washed away into wells and rivers during soil erosion, causing environmental contamination.
Why is the Ban on Chlorpyrifos Necessary?
Research done on Chlorpyrifos over the years has brought more evidence showing that very low levels of the chemical can have permanent effects on children. It was the reason for the EPA banning the usage of the chemicals in homesteads in the 2000s, which forced Dow, who is the pesticide manufacturer, to take it off the market.
However, golf courses and farmers continued using the pesticide. The chemical is even more dangerous because it is applied to the foods people consume almost every day, like oranges. Those who use the chemical on cattle ear labels also contaminate the meat consumed daily, increasing the risk of exposure.
Chlorpyrifos is categorized as an organophosphate which is a pesticide used in poisoning insects. Organophosphates are widely used for agricultural purposes by veterinarians, homesteads, and gardens.
The Dow Company, the pesticide manufacturer, first introduced it in the market in the 1960s for farm and home use to fight pests and insects. Its use spread around the globe as golf clubs, municipalities and farmers sprayed the chemical everywhere.
However, on August 2021, the 9th circuit appellate court issued an order to the EPA to ban all food uses of the chemical and only retain those uses it finds safe for children and workers handling it.
The recent ban on the chemical was necessary because most staple foods in the U.S., like wheat, corn, citrus fruits, and oranges, were sprayed with the toxic chemical for over five decades. Chlorpyrifos residues were even found in melons even after they had been thoroughly cleaned and pealed. Continued pesticide use has proved to have harmful effects on children because it’s associated with autism, attention deficit condition, and reduced IQ.
Groups like Earthjustice have been pushing for the pesticide ban in a series of lawsuits because it has found it to be dangerous to human beings, wildlife, and the environment.
Despite many requests to ban pesticide use, the EPA declined to allow farmers to continue using this dangerous chemical in foods. Instead, it decided to side with huge corporations making profits at the expense of the ordinary citizen. The agency’s inaction is a tragedy because it is mandated to protect the public, especially the children, from dangerous products.
On top of the various studies that have linked prenatal exposure of the insecticide to permanent harm on children, there have been real cases of pregnant moms and their children suffering disabilities because of the pesticide exposure; EPA took so long before taking action.
In 2016, the agency released a human health risk evaluation for the pesticide and corroborated no safe uses. The EPA findings were:
- No food exposures to the chemical surpass the safe levels, with minors aged one to two years exposed to Chlorpyrifos levels that are one hundred and forty times what the agency deems standard.
- Drinking water exposures have no safe levels
- The chemicals drift during spraying reach unsafe levels at three hundred feet from the edge of the farm.
- The chemical is found in unsafe levels in learning institutions, homes, and communities near agricultural farms.
- All workers who mix or apply the chemical experience hazardous exposure even when they are in full protective gear.
- Farmworkers can return to the fields within one to five days of spraying, although the hazardous exposure continues for 18 days after application.
People living in agricultural areas, primarily children, are at great risk of exposure. Apart from consuming contaminated food, they drink contaminated water, meaning they are exposed to the chemical from all angles. For this reason, pushing the EPA to ban the usage of the chemical was necessary to protect these vulnerable individuals.
Laws Concerning Insecticides and Chlorpyrifos
In 1993, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) increased the Congress’s protections of minors from pesticides like Chlorpyrifos and heavily disparaged EPA for handling minors like adults by failing to give a discourse to the risk of children contact with pesticides depending on the foods they ate, place of play, and their complex developmental phases.
Congress enacted the Food Quality Protect Act in 1996, requiring the EPA to have measures in place to protect minors from exposure to pesticides. According to the Act, the agency must ensure children and infants are protected from any harm or injury that may stem from pesticide exposure. The Act requires EPA to ban any pesticides if they can’t guarantee children’s safety after exposure.
Is there Legal Action that has been taken against EPA and Chlorpyrifos?
The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a claim with EPA in 2007, pursuing a ban on Chlorpyrifos because of increasing evidence of its dangers and harm. Unfortunately, EPA failed to take action to protect children by banning the pesticide.
After several years of inaction, Earthjustice, on behalf of PAN and NRDC, filed another petition in the 9th circuit appellate court in 2014, seeking to persuade the EPA to act on the earlier-filed petition.
Following EPA delays and missed deadlines, the court issued an order to EPA, requiring it to respond to the initial petition filed over the safety of the pesticide in October 2015. However, the EPA failed to comply with the court order, forcing the court to issue another deadline to take action on the Chlorpyrifos petition. The court ordered the agency to issue a response by March 31, 2017. Two days before the lapse of the deadline, EPA took action and decided not to ban the use of the pesticide despite the overwhelming evidence of the harm the chemical had on children, infants, farmworkers, and the surroundings. The reason for not banning the pesticide is because it was continuing with more research.
Earthjustice didn’t give up. Instead, the group filed an administrative appeal to the EPA, requesting the federal government to ban the chemical. The appeal sought to challenge EPA‘s decision not to ban Chlorpyrifos usage. The appeal was also joined by other parties that were pushing for the ban of the pesticide.
On 9th August 2018, the ninth circuit court ordered EPA to finalize its findings within sixty days based on the acknowledged evidence that the pesticide was harmful to farmworkers and children. The EPA responded by asking the appellate court to re-hear the matter, and the court set a date for hearing the case for March 26, 2019.
The eleven-judge panel ruled that the EPA must decide by 18th July 2019 whether to ban Chlorpyrifos. On the day of the deadline, the agency issued a decision for the dangerous and toxic pesticide to continue being used for agricultural purposes.
Earthjustice didn’t give up yet, as the group went ahead and filed another petition in the court ordering EPA to effect a full ban of Chlorpyrifos. A three-judge bench heard the appeal and set a date for a verdict for July 2020. After hearing the petition, the court gave a ruling on April 29, 2021.
In its verdict, the court asserted that the EPA had 14 years after the petitioner filed the first petition seeking a chemical ban in 2007, but there was no response. During the period of delayed response, many children and workers were exposed to the chemical. EPA’s time was up now, and they were remanded to ban the chemical one last time. The court gave the agency a sixty-day notice to effect the ban, and this was a victory to many farmers and children nationwide who will be spared from this poisoning.
Dow Company and Chlorpyrifos
Dow patented Chlorpyrifos in 1960 as a versatile pesticide for homesteads and agricultural reasons. Trade names like Lorsban and Cobalt marketed the product.
The pesticide was intended to eliminate pests like mites, vermin, and ants in homesteads and farms. Unfortunately, multiple kinds of research or peer-reviews that have been conducted on the chemical have shown that it causes developmental neurotoxicity in infants and children. EPA has also detailed the risks of prenatal exposure to the pesticide, agreeing that their connection between minors and the pesticide and developing autism and other disorders.
However, the chemical manufacturer disputes the findings, claiming that the overwhelming evidence presented for over a decade continues to prove there is insufficient evidence linking the chemical to any health problem. The company is conducting its investigations to check the claims that its product is dangerous.
Findings of Dow Company Testing
A new review by the Journal Environmental Health’s Investigations reveals that the testing findings conducted by The Dow Company were misinterpreted. They claim that the pesticide manufacturer used raw data. The company hid the results, which indicated the pesticide triggered brain impairment in the baby rats they were tested on. When researchers repeated the tests using the same, they discovered the experiments weren’t designed appropriately.
However, the company is disputing this new report, and they refute the allegations made against their testing, alleging that they used manipulated data. The company claims to have complied with all EPA standards and adhered to all U.S. regulations in its statement.
On the other hand, Earthjustice, through their managing attorney, argues that Chlorpyrifos manufacturer has been refuting all the studies conducted associating their insecticide to disorders in mothers and their children after exposure to the pesticide. However, Dow maintains that lab investigations on rats remain the only main way of testing neurotoxicity in the pesticide.
The discovery that Dow lied by using manipulated data in its experiments and withheld crucial information about the dangers of the pesticides in its report adds to the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates the pesticide must be banned for use on foods. Additional evidence that Chlorpyrifos used incorrect data in their testing is that they didn’t model human brain growth. Instead, they relied on rat models whose findings don’t show how the chemical affects the human brain.
Studies have shown that prenatal exposure affects the brain growth of fetuses, but the spurt doesn’t occur in rat babies until birth. Failure to test neurotoxicity when the rat baby’s brain is growing after birth isn’t an indicator of the outcome of the human brain in the fetus phase.
Another problem with Dow’s study is they claimed the pesticide was only lethal to the brain during high-level exposure. However, researchers discovered the rat’s brain was still shrinking even in low, moderate, or high exposures, something Dow failed to include in their ultimate report.
Has Chlorpyrifos been banned for Food Use?
EPA issued the decision to ban Chlorpyrifos for use in fruits and vegetables on August 18th, 2021, two days before the deadline issued by the court of appeal.
Currently, the agency has banned pesticide use in all foods, but non-food uses of the chemical in golf courses and nurseries will be reviewed later in 2022. However, the ban on using the pesticide in all foods will take effect half a year from when the final rule will be published in the Federal register.
Today, many states, including California, have banned or considering the ban of Chlorpyrifos.
After completion of the non-food use review, the anticipated milestones include:
- Amendment of the 2016 organophosphate accumulative risk evaluation after single risk chemical assessment and provisional decision on all organophosphates are finished.
- Assess possible endocrine effects linked with the application of Chlorpyrifos in the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP).
- Publish a draft of the National Marine and Fisheries Service (NMFS)
- Respond to the comment document on the commentaries of the planned temporary decisions, the risk analysis, and the benefits evaluation.
Find a Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Mass Tort Near Me
If you feel your infant has developmental disorders or sustained harm due the hazardous exposure to Chlorpyrifos, you need to call 800-511-0747 to speak to one of our experts at Consumer Alert Now. We will find you proper legal representation and follow the ban of the pesticide closely to take action and ensure you obtain compensation from Dow and other large companies for the harm suffered. It is possible the