July 17, 2024

EPA Is Ending the Use of the Pesticide Chlorpyrifos On Food

The EPA is ending the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on food, in a final rule that was released August 18, 2021. The decision is a reaction to a court ruling in April 2021 that directed the agency to ban the use of the organophosphate insecticide on food or set new residue levels that are safe for children. If the EPA can’t ensure that a pesticide won’t hurt children, they must ban it, according to the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act.

EPA Is Ending the Use of the Pesticide Chlorpyrifos On Food

The final rule revokes all “tolerances” for chlorpyrifos. The agency will also issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos associated with the revoked tolerances.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a statement, “Today EPA is taking an overdue step to protect public health. Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide. After the delays and denials of the prior administration, EPA will follow the science and put health and safety first.”

This is a battle that has been going on for years. The first proposal to ban the insecticide was in 2015, but that decision was reversed in 2017. Environmental group Earthjustice challenged that reversal, which lead to the court order in April.

Chlorpyrifos was first developed as a weapon in World War II, then was repurposed for agricultural use. It inhibits an enzyme in the body, which leads to neurotoxicity. The insecticide is associated with neurodevelopment disorders, especially when exposed in early life, such as reduced IQ, attention disorders, and autism in children, according to Earthjustice.

EPA determined that “the current aggregate exposures from the use of chlorpyrifos do not meet the legal required safety standard that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from such exposure.” In the past few years, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Maryland, and New York enacted chlorpyrifos bans, and the largest manufacturer of the chemical stopped producing it. Its use has been in decline because of restrictions at the state level and reduced production.

Chlorpyrifos is used on many different crops, including fruit and nut trees, soybeans, broccoli, cauliflower, wheat, alfalfa, corn, and other row crops. The EPA is currently reviewing the safety of two dozen more organophosphate pesticides, which will be complete in October 2022.


  1. Lisa Gabriel says

    Halleluyah ! Long overdue. Looking forward to hearing / reading of the next line of organophosphates under review.

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