The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, Augsut 7 sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to ban the use of a toxic pesticide which is widely used on food consumed by infants, young children, and pregnant women.
The multistate lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenges EPA’s July 2019 decision to allow the pesticide, known as chlorpyrifos, to continue to be sprayed on food crops, despite overwhelming evidence of the risks associated with the chemical and the law’s requirement that EPA had to ban chlorpyrifos unless the agency found it to be safe.
“The Trump Administration is shamefully putting industry interests above the health of our children and the environment,” AG Healey said. “We are asking the Court to order EPA to do its job and ban this toxic pesticide from our food.”
Chlorpyrifos is a common pesticide used in the United States on numerous food crops, including apples, strawberries, bananas, pears, peaches, nectarines, and cherries.
Residues of the pesticide have repeatedly been found in baby foods and juices.
Chlorpyrifos acts by inhibiting an enzyme that is key to the proper development and functioning of the central nervous system and brain.
Studies have shown that children born to mothers who were exposed to the toxic pesticide during their pregnancy exhibited cognitive and motor development delays in the first three years, and structural changes in the brain, lower working memory and IQ scores at age 7, and movement disorders (including arm tremors) at age 11.
Joining AG Healey in filing today’s lawsuit are the attorneys general of New York, California, Maryland, Vermont, and Washington. The attorneys general of Hawaii and Washington, D.C. intend to file a motion to intervene in the lawsuit tomorrow.
EPA’s own scientists twice have been unable to identify a safe level for the pesticide on food. In November 2015 and again in November 2016, EPA issued notices of proposed rulemaking to revoke all tolerances and prohibit food from having chlorpyrifos pesticide residue food.
However, in one of his first official acts, then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt disregarded those proposed regulations and decades of accumulated scientific evidence and issued an order putting off until October 2022, if not longer, any decision on whether to revoke or modify currently allowable levels of chlorpyrifos residues on food.
Today’s lawsuit asserts EPA’s July decision was arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law by leaving the tolerances in place without – as required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act – ensuring that no harm will result to infants and children or determining that the current tolerances for chlorpyrifos are safe. The attorneys general request that the court set aside the July 2019 decision and direct EPA to revoke all tolerances for chlorpyrifos residues on foods unless the agency makes a finding that they are safe.