Hawaii Is First State to Ban Pesticide Chlorpyrifos After Growing Concern for Kids’ Health
Hawaii has banned the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, becoming the first U.S. state to do so, thanks to pressure from a multi-year grassroots campaign. The movement sprung out of growing health concerns for children and sea animals across the state.
Chlorpyrifos is labeled as a neurotoxin and has been linked to comprehension difficulties and developmental delays in children. The World Health Organization labeled chlorpyrifos “moderately hazardous.” Other possible consequences of chlorpyrifos exposure include headaches, nausea, vomiting, tremors, unconsciousness, paralysis, and developmental issues like reduced IQ, ADHD, or learning disabilities.
Chlorpyrifos was first developed by the Dow Chemical Company (DCC) in 1965 as a pesticide that works on the nervous system of insects.
On Monday Trump nominated a former DCC executive, Scott Hutchins to the position of chief USDA scientist. Hutchins works at the DCC involved formulating and producing pesticides as part of his role as head of global crop development. Hutchins is the third DCC executive to be nominated to the Trump administration.
In March of 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency reversed the Obama administration’s efforts to ban chlorpyrifos and allowed chlorpyrifos to continue to be marketed and sold in the U.S. The EPA’s decision came in spite of the agency’s findings under Obama that chlorpyrifos could pose a risk to consumers. The EPA said it would continue to study the pesticide.
Hawaii’s bill banning chlorpyrifos was first introduced in 2013 but went through years of votes, vetos and lawsuits before being signed into state law on June 13, 2018.
In addition to banning chlorpyrifos, the bill enforces strict regulations over the use of pesticides. The new law requires that –
- Restricted-Use Pesticides (RUPs) must not be sprayed within 100 feet of any schools during normal school hours
- Care must be taken to ensure that RUPs spray does not drift to around school areas by putting up buffer zones
- Beginning January 1, 2019, farmers using RUPs would be required to report its usage to the State Department of Agriculture
- Beginning January 1, 2019, pesticides containing chlorpyrifos as their major ingredient will no longer be allowed
- Starting from July 1, 2019, the Department of Agriculture will begin to track pesticide drift during usage
- In certain cases, the State Department of Agriculture through December 31, 2022, may permit the temporary use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos
Senate Bill 3095 will help to protect children in schools, and people in residential areas where pesticides are sprayed not too far away. The climate in Hawaii allows for growing crops all-year round and thus the potential for exposure to pesticides is great.
Recently concerns have been raised over pesticide drift, which is the phenomenon of pesticides drifting into areas neighboring the targeted spray zone. A recent report in Iowa found that 445,000 children are at risk of pesticide exposure, largely due to pesticide drift.
With the new agriculture law in Hawaii, chlorpyrifos will become banned in the state as of January 1, 2019. But big farmers and agricultural companies may apply for temporary permits to use the chemical until December 31, 2022, when it will become permanently banned without any recourse.