hlorpyrifos is a toxic pesticide and belongs to category of chemicals known as organophosphates. Organophosphates are closely related to nerve agents used as chemical weapons, such as Sarin gas. For decades, chlorpyrifos has been applied on a wide variety of agricultural crops and sprayed as a residential pesticide, often in apartment buildings. The chemical is sold with the trade names Lorsban, Dursban, Lock-On, and Cobalt. It has an unpleasant odor often described as similar to garlic or rotten eggs. Acute direct exposure to chlorpyrifos is known to cause muscle spasms, vomiting, seizures, unconsciousness, paralysis, respiratory failure, and death.
In 2000, the EPA banned residential use of chlorpyrifos after studies showed the damaging long-term effects from exposure to residue. Indirect chlorpyrifos exposure was found to cause memory loss, reduce IQ, neurological damage, and a variety of other health problems and behavioral disorders with children being especially susceptible.
In 2015, the EPA initially proposed a ban on agricultural use of chlorpyrifos following a petition by the Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council. Under pressure from agribusiness lobbying group, the EPA opted to revisit its research and delay the ban. Shortly after reaching the conclusion for a second time that chlorpyrifos was too dangerous and should be banned, Trump administration appointee EPA administrator Scott Pruitt reversed course and denied the petition to ban chlorpyrifos.
The American Academy of Pediatrics responded with a statement that they were “deeply alarmed” by the decision to allow the pesticide’s continued use. The professional society of pediatricians said, “There is a wealth of science demonstrating the detrimental effects of chlorpyrifos exposure to developing fetuses, infants, children and pregnant women. The risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous.” It eventually came to light that Pruitt met with agricultural industry representatives many times in the weeks leading up to deny the ban. Pruitt later resigned while the subject of 13 federal investigations related to alleged ethical and legal violations, including that he inappropriately met with various industry lobbyists.
In August 2018, several groups sued the EPA to “revoke all tolerances and cancel all registrations for chlorpyrifos.” The judges in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the ban but Dow Chemical, the maker of chlorpyrifos, continues to fight the decision.
Exposure to chlorpyrifos happens through drift of the toxic chemical during agricultural spraying or contamination of drinking water. Farm workers are at an increased risk of exposure to chlorpyrifos from mixing, handling, and applying the chemical or entering fields where chlorpyrifos has been sprayed.
Chlorpyrifos exposure can be particularly devastating to young children and pregnant mothers. Cognitive deficits, neurodevelopmental delays, behavioral disorders, lowered intelligence, and birth defects can be seen in children born to mothers who were exposed to chlorpyrifos during their pregnancy. Similar serious health conditions develop when infants and toddlers are exposed to chlorpyrifos.
If you or your child have suffered injury from exposure to chlorpyrifos, contact us at 804.466.4412. You may be eligible for compensation.