What is Chlorpyrifos?
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide, or pesticide, made of white or colorless crystals. The chemical is used to control many different kinds of pests including termites, mosquitoes, and roundworms. Chlorpyrifos was first registered by Dow Chemical Co. as an insecticide in 1965, and the EPA re-registered it in 2006, according to National Geographic .
The insecticide became widely-used almost immediately after its introduction, as it proved to be a highly effective deterrent to nearly all insects. Chlorpyrifos has been sprayed extensively by homeowners, farmers, golf courses and municipalities all across the U.S. and around the world.
What's the Problem?
According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) , chlorpyrifos can be harmful if it is touched, inhaled, or eaten. The Environmental Protection Agency’s own experts have linked chlorpyrifos to a wide range of severe, potentially life-threatening health problems in children and adults, according to the Workplace Health and Safety Journal .
How Does the Pesticide Work?
Chlorpyrifos contains a neurotoxic organophosphate (OP) insecticide that blocks an enzyme which controls messages that travel between nerve cells. When the enzyme is blocked, the nervous system can't send normal signals. This causes the nervous system to malfunction, eventually killing the pest.
How Could I Be Exposed?
People can be exposed to chlorpyrifos by eating it, inhaling it, or getting it on the skin or in the eyes, according to the NPIC. You could also be exposed to chlorpyrifos if you apply products containing the pesticide, either as part of your job or around your home.
Serious side effects of chlorpyrifos in children may include:
- Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Brain damage
- Low IQ
- Developmental problems
- Neurological problems
In adults, long-term exposure to chlorpyrifos may cause the following serious side effects:
- Lung cancer
- Parkinson's disease
- And more
Source: National Resources Defense Council, Inc. 
Who Makes Chlorpyrifos?
There are currently 5 main companies that manufacture Chlorpyrifos, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry .
They are Dow AgroSciences LLC, FMC Corporation (formerly Cheminova A/S), Adama Agricultural Solutions (formerly Makhteshim Agan Industries or "MAI"), Garda and Platte Chemical Co. Of these, Dow is by far the biggest worldwide manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, which is handled by its subsidiary, Dow Chemical Company.
Why Isn’t Chlorpyrifos Banned?
Chlorpyrifos was banned from indoor home use in 2001, but the insecticide continues to be used in agricultural fields, with an estimated 8 million pounds applied annually, according to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) .
The EPA in July 2019 announced that it would not ban chlorpyrifos , with many blaming the decision on a Trump Administration agenda focused on weakening the regulation of toxic chemicals, according to The New York Times .
Symptoms of Chlorpyrifos Exposure (Short-Term)
- Runny nose
- Increased saliva
- Abdominal muscle cramps
- Muscle twitching
- Loss of coordination
(Source: National Pesticide Information Center)
Chlorpyrifos Brand Names
Chlorpyrifos is contained in the following brand name products:
How to Protect Your Children From Pesticides
- Families who live in homes or apartments that are sprayed with pesticides should ask the owner/apartment manager about the company they use, whether it is licensed, and what products it sprays.
- Wait at least 1 full day after spraying is complete.
- Families with young children should put away or return items they might touch or put in their mouths, especially stuffed animals, which can be coated in pesticides for days.
- Carpets should be removed, if possible.
- Parents should thoroughly wash all produce by soaking them in water and scrubbing.
- Wash your hands after touching fruit with thick skins (oranges, bananas) so you don't contaminate washed produce after peeling.
- If you are pregnant, it is not safe for you to work in areas where pesticides are sprayed.
The global Chlorpyrifos market is anticipated to achieve a significant compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2025 due to increasing demand from the agricultural industry, according to My Health Reporter .
Despite its significant health risks, Chlorpyrifos is in high demand in the farming and animal care sectors, and also used in the commercial sector on golf courses and playgrounds to control the mosquitoes and other insects.
The increasing use of Chlorpyrifos and new innovations due to vigorous research and development also boost the demand of the Chlorpyrifos and drive the global market.
EPA Won’t Ban Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage in Children: PBS NewsHour Video
Bill Seeks to Limit Use of Chlorpyrifos in Washington
Regulators in Washington State must soon consider a new measure designed to limit the use of chlorpyrifos, according to KLCC . Under the proposed bill, the Washington Department of Agriculture would have to make emergency rules that address the health problems caused by chlorpyrifos, rather than banning the insecticide outright, as many health and farmworker activists had hoped.
The Washington bill would also fund more education and safety training, in addition to funding research on alternatives to chlorpyrifos.
Maryland Senate Votes to Ban Chlorpyrifos
The Maryland Senate has voted on a measure that would ban chlorpyrifos throughout the state for 4 years beginning on Dec. 31, 2020, according to The State. Supporters of the measure say chlorpyrifos damages children's brain development, and also poses a threat to aquatic life and the Chesapeake Bay. The Senate voted 31-14 for the measure, which now goes to the House.
Corteva to Stop Making Chlorpyrifos
Corteva Inc. has announced plans to stop producing chlorpyrifos by the end of 2020, according to KDAL-AM. The company claims the decision was based on declining sales, not any health concern.
Corteva's move reflects a trend toward newer products in the $14.5 billion global agrichemicals industry amid increased restrictions on chlorpyrifos and other potentially harmful insecticides.
Oregon Lawmakers Take On Phasing Out Chlorpyrifos
The Oregon Legislature is attempting to phase out the use of chlorpyrifos after falling short in 2019, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting . The proposed bill – House Bill 4109 – focuses on 4 areas to eliminate chlorpyrifos over the next 2 years: First, it would prohibit aerial use of any product containing chlorpyrifos and prohibit applying the pesticide within 300 feet of a school.
It would also require employers to ensure workers do not enter areas in which the pesticide was applied within 8 preceding calendar days. Finally, the bill would prohibit the sale of chlorpyrifos by 2022.
Chlorpyrifos Exposure May Increase Risk of Endometriosis, Study Finds
A preliminary study  has found that exposure to pesticides like chlorpyrifos could increase the risk of endometriosis, a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. For the study, which was published in the March 2020 edition of Environment International, researchers looked at the urine of 594 women, ages 18-44, who underwent surgery (laparoscopy/laparotomy) or pelvic MRI.
Of these women, 202 were diagnosed with endometriosis. The results indicated that those more exposed to a metabolite called IMPY had a significantly increased endometriosis risk — by about 89%.
“Our preliminary evidence suggests that exposure to diazinon (the parent compound of IMPY) as well as chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl (parent compounds of TCPY) may be associated with increased odds of an incident endometriosis diagnosis,” the researchers concluded.
California Bans Chlorpyrifos
The sale of chlorpyrifos in California will be outlawed at the beginning of next year, per an agreement reached with the manufacturer, according to the Sonoma Index-Tribune . Under the deal, sales of chlorpyrifos will end on Feb. 6, 2020, and farmers will have until the end of the year to deplete their stocks of the chemical.
“For years, environmental justice advocates have fought to get the harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos out of our communities,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Thanks to their tenacity and the work of countless others, this will now occur faster than originally envisioned. This is a big win for children, workers and public health in California.”
New York Man Sues EPA to Tighten Restrictions on Pesticide Use
A man from Tioga County, New York, who claims he was appointed by god to save the earth, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Indiana Environmental Reporter . Plaintiff David J. Forjan alleges in the complaint that he and his dog, Annie, are constantly exposed to chlorpyrifos and other pesticides in the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the foods they eat.
“Father says, your Honor, all of my children and some of yours are being endangered and killed because their food all around them is poisoned," the complaint states. "Father says, your Honor, we must stop allowing the use of pesticides. Father says, your Honor, pesticides are poisons.”
The suit further alleges that God finds the use of pesticides, especially chlorpyrifos, to be “abominable,” and that its continued use shows an “egregious disregard” for the health of humans and the environment.
Why is the EFSA Withholding Documents on Chlorpyrifos?
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been criticized by EU member states for refusing to publicize certain documents pertaining to a potential ban on chlorpyrifos in Europe, according to EU Observer .
However, EFSA may have good reason for holding the information back, at least for the time being. It is still unknown whether countries that produce or use large amounts of chlorpyrifos will have the power to form a blocking minority in the EU.
If so, they could hamstring a ban on the chemical indefinitely. Therefore, the release of any confidential documents could "jeopardize the ongoing peer-review process," according to EFSA's executive director, Berhard Url.
EU Poised to Ban Chlorpyrifos Over Dangers of Insecticide Exposure
European Health Officials have concluded that there is no safe level for exposure to chlorpyrifos, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) . The approval period for chlorpyrifos use in the EU expires in January 2020, and the manufacturer's application to renew approval is currently under review by the European Commission.
“The EU is doing what the science demands: putting public health ahead of the narrow interests of the pesticide industry,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Tragically for American kids and their parents, the Trump administration is kowtowing to chemical agribusiness and allowing a dangerous pesticide to be sprayed on foods children eat every day.”
The U.S. EPA was expected to ban chlorpyrifos in early 2017, but after Trump was elected in Nov. 2016, Dow launched an aggressive campaign to keep the pesticides on the market, including donating $1 million to the new administration, which ultimately paid dividends in helping achieve their goal.
Study Finds Chlorpyrifos in New Zealand Streams
A new study looking at chemicals in New Zealand waterways has found evidence of 3 pesticides banned in the EU, including chlorpyrifos, present in agricultural streams, according to Mirage News .
The researchers identified 6 different pesticides at one site in their study of 36 agricultural streams in Waikato, Southland, Otago and Canterbury. All these pesticides are still being used in New Zealand, the study's authors said.
EU Urges Member States to Ban Chlorpyrifos, Citing Children's Health Concerns
The European Commission has formally requested that EU countries not renew their license for chlorpyrifos, according to the Genetic Literacy Project . Earlier this month, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded the insecticide is harmful to human health , and that no safe exposure level can be set.
The agency said its research had “identified concerns about possible genotoxic effects as well as neurological effects during development, supported by epidemiological data indicating effects in children.”
Newsom Files Accusations Against Dow, Starts Proceedings to Eliminate Chlorpyrifos from California
The Newsom administration last week filed accusations against Dow and other chlorpyrifos manufacturers, formally beginning the proceedings to cancel chlorpyrifos’ registration in California, according to the Los Angeles Times . The filing comes on the heels of EPA's most recent refusal to take federal action on the pesticide.
Newsom also recently announced formation of a multi-sectoral work group, convened by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to develop a statewide plan to support an approach to farming that is less dependent upon dangerous chemicals like chlorpyrifos.
6 States Sue EPA for Not Banning Chlorpyrifos
A half dozen states have filed a lawsuit against the EPA over its decision to allow further use of chlorpyrifos, according to The Hill . California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland and Vermont argued in court documents that the pesticide should be removed immediately due to the potential health risks associated with it.
“A chlorpyrifos ban is long overdue given the overwhelming evidence that says this pesticide harms brain development in children,” said Tracy Gregoire, project coordinator at the Learning Disabilities Association of America. “We are hopeful the courts will side with children who are now being exposed to irreparable, yet preventable harm.”
EPA fired back by claiming that those challenging the use of chlorpyrifos did not have enough information to demonstrate the product is unsafe, and that it would continue to review safe data on the insecticide through 2022.
"Registration review is a comprehensive, scientific and transparent process that will further evaluate the potential effects of chlorpyrifos," the agency said in a statement to The Hill. "EPA has also been engaged in discussions with the chlorpyrifos registrants that could result in further use limitations."
California to Remove Chlorpyrifos Despite EPA Decision
California regulators in August 2019 took formal steps to ban chlorpyrifos statewide, despite the pesticide being rescued from elimination by the EPA and Trump administration, according to the Los Angeles Times .
In 2017 alone, nearly 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos was sprayed on crops in California, making it the nation’s largest consumer of the insecticide, according to state data.
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Can I File a Class Action?
Although Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is a nationally recognized class action firm, we have decided against this type of litigation when it comes to chlorpyrifos. Our product liability lawyers feel that if there is a successful resolution to these cases, individual suits, not class actions will be the best way to get maximum payouts to our clients.
If you’ve been injured by chlorpyrifos, we know you’ve suffered emotionally and economically, and want to work with you personally to obtain the maximum compensation for the damages caused by your injuries. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights.