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Chlorpyrifos: An Endangerment to All

Artwork by Isabelle Lu, staff artist

It has been recently announced that the Biden administration, with the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), has decided to prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos after discovering its association with neurological damage, intellectual disabilities, and developmental issues in children. Chlorpyrifos is a common pesticide used in fruit and vegetable production such as corn, soybeans, apples, and asparagus. Its ban has been regarded as a long “overdue step” by Michael Regan, an administrator of the E.P.A., in protecting the health of farm workers, their families, and the general public.

This pesticide is found in many food and nonfood-related products. Many groups of people have been fighting for its ban, including environmental organizations and those involved in advocating for farm workers. Elizabeth Strater, a director for United Farm Workers of America, describes the effect of such pesticides on farm workers, observing that they “...don’t hug their kids until they change clothes, they wash their laundry separately. When they miscarry, or when their children have birth defects or learning disabilities, they wonder if their work exposures harmed their children.”

In 2007, the Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council filed a petition against some of the current regulations on the use of chlorpyrifos. The petition continued to be denied by the EPA from 2017 until 2019 when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the agency to address the petition by either modifying the tolerances of chlorpyrifos use or prohibiting its use. Finally, 14 years after the initial petition, the use of this dangerous pesticide will be banned, protecting farm workers and consumers everywhere.


Rebecca Cho is a columnist and critic for The Incandescent Review and a high school writer from Jericho, New York. Follow her Instagram @becca_cho1020.



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