The League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and eleven other organizations represented by Earthjustice have taken a huge step forward in the fight to protect children, farmworkers and the general public from the dangers of outdated pesticides that began as weapons of chemical warfare.
On August 9, 2018 the 9 TH Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to ban use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in all settings in the United States. EPA has found that there is no safe level of exposure to chlorpyrifos. Research has shown prenatal and early life exposure to chlorpyrifos is linked to lower birth weight and neurodevelopmental harms, such as:
- Reduced IQ
- Loss of working memory
- Attention disorders
- Delayed motor development
- Birth defects
“This victory is important in agricultural areas throughout the state, especially in the Lower Yakima Valley where birth defects have been found to be higher than the state average”, stated Jean Mendoza, environmental justice committee member for Washington state LULAC. The WA Department of Ecology tests for pesticides in the Lower Yakima River and routinely finds chlorpyrifos in drains and river water. Populations in Yakima County have experienced a higher rate of birth defects and it is unknown whether there is a correlation with chlorpyrifos. In 2014 the rate of birth defects for Yakima County was 43.24 per 100,000 compared to the WA State average of 37.82 per 100,000.
There are safer alternatives to chlorpyrifos. Every crop that is grown using chlorpyrifos is successfully grown using other methods of insect control. Examples include planting adequately sized buffers, planting cover crops and introducing friendly insects. “Banning chlorpyrifos makes Washington state safer for people, fish and wildlife. This is a reason for all of us to celebrate,” stated Diana Perez, Washington state LULAC director.