California Moving to Prohibit Use of Chlorpyrifos

"California's action to cancel the registration of chlorpyrifos is needed to prevent the significant harm this pesticide causes children, farmworkers, and vulnerable communities," said CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld. "This action also represents a historic opportunity for California to develop a new framework for alternative pest management practices."

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) announced May 8 that the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation is acting to ban the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in California by initiating a cancellation of the pesticide. CalEPA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture also announced that Gov. Gavin Newsom will propose $5.7 million in new funding in the May Revision budget proposal to support the transition to safer, more sustainable alternatives, and plans to convene a working group to recommend alternative pest management solutions.

"California's action to cancel the registration of chlorpyrifos is needed to prevent the significant harm this pesticide causes children, farmworkers, and vulnerable communities," said CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld. "This action also represents a historic opportunity for California to develop a new framework for alternative pest management practices."

The agency reported that the decision to ban chlorpyrifos follows mounting evidence, including recent findings by the state’s independent Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants, that the pesticide causes serious health effects in children and other sensitive populations at lower levels of exposure than previously understood. In April, chlorpyrifos was formally listed as a toxic air contaminant, which California law defines as "an air pollutant which may cause or contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious illness, or which may pose a present or potential hazard to human health." The listing requires DPR to develop control measures to protect the health of farmworkers and others living and working near where the pesticide is used.

DPR has determined, in consultation with CDFA, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the California Air Resources Board that sufficient additional control measures are not feasible. As a result, DPR intends to begin the process of canceling the registrations for products containing chlorpyrifos and convening a cross-sector working group to identify safer alternatives to avoid replacing chlorpyrifos with an equally harmful pesticide. DPR also will consult with county agricultural commissioners and local air pollution control districts before filing for cancellation. The cancellation process could take up to two years.

During the cancellation process, DPR's recommendations to county agricultural commissioners for tighter permit restrictions on the use of chlorpyrifos will remain in place. These include a ban on aerial spraying, quarter-mile buffer zones, and limiting use to crop-pest combinations that lack alternatives. DPR will support aggressive enforcement of these restrictions, CalEPA reported.

The proposed cancellation would apply to dozens of agricultural products containing the pesticide. The pesticide has been prohibited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for residential uses since 2001.

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