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What You Should Know

Chlorpyrifos

The toxic pesticide harming our children and environment

For half a century, staple food crops in the United States — such as corn, wheat, apples and citrus — have been sprayed with chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide that can permanently damage the developing brains of children, causing reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders.

Now, after a decades-long legal fight and under a court-ordered deadline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finally issued a final rule banning all food uses of chlorpyrifos.

According to the new regulation signed by the agency on Aug. 18, 2021, all food uses of chlorpyrifos will be revoked six months from the final rule’s publication in the Federal Register, which will likely happen in the coming weeks. Additionally, non-food uses of pesticide, such as mosquito control and nurseries, would be subject to review later in 2022.

Our clients League of United Latin American Citizens; Pesticide Action Network North America; Natural Resources Defense Council; California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation; Farmworkers Association of Florida; Farmworker Justice; Greenlatinos; Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; Learning Disabilities Association of America; National Hispanic Medical Association; Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste; United Farm Workers

In a series of lawsuits, Earthjustice, alongside other groups, pushed the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos.

In response to those court-ordered deadlines, the Trump administration's EPA twice refused to ban chlorpyrifos, in 2016 and 2019. Then, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its ruling on Apr. 29, 2021, in our legal challenge.

The court wrote that ”the EPA’s time is now up,” ordering the agency to ban all food uses of chlorpyrifos or retain only those uses it can find safe for workers and children. EPA issued its decision to ban all food uses of chlorpyrifos on Aug. 18, two days before the court-ordered deadline.

Here’s what you should know about chlorpyrifos:

What is chlorpyrifos?

Chlorpyrifos (pronounced: klawr-pir-uh-fos) is a neurotoxic pesticide in the organophosphates class of chemicals that were first developed by the Nazis for chemical warfare.
Today, chlorpyrifos is widely used in U.S. agriculture. Generally sprayed on crops, it’s used to kill a variety of agricultural pests.
Chlorpyrifos is acutely toxic and associated with neurodevelopmental harms in children. Prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos are associated with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders, and delayed motor development.
Acute poisoning suppresses the enzyme that regulates nerve impulses in the body and can cause convulsions, respiratory paralysis, and, in extreme cases, death. Chlorpyrifos is one of the pesticides most often linked to pesticide poisonings. (Read an in-depth report on chlorpyrifos.)

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A child peels a clementine.
Annette Dubois / CC BY 2.0
Children often experience greater exposure to chlorpyrifos because they drink more water and juice for their weight, relative to adults, and frequently put their hands in their mouths.

How are people exposed to chlorpyrifos?

People are exposed through residues on food and in drinking water, and by toxic spray drift from pesticide applications.
Farmworkers are exposed to it from mixing, handling, and applying the pesticide; as well as from entering fields where chlorpyrifos was recently sprayed.
Consumers across the country are at risk, too, given chlorpyrifos’ widespread use. Residential uses of chlorpyrifos ended in 2000 after EPA found unacceptable risks to kids.
Children often experience greater exposure to chlorpyrifos and other pesticides because they frequently put their hands in their mouths and, relative to adults, they eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water and juice for their weight.

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Farmworkers pick, separate, and process sweet potatoes in Mechanicsville, VA.
Lance Cheung / USDA
A farmworker gathers sweet potatoes in Mechanicsville, VA. Sweet potatoes are one of the many crops that chlorpyrifos is used on. Agricultural workers are at high risk for pesticide poisoning.
Martin do Nascimento / Earthjustice
In this video, agricultural worker Claudia Angulo describes how her son Isaac suffered brain damage after she was exposed to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy. Since Isaac’s diagnosis with ADHD, she has worked to raise awareness among farm workers, the public, and politicians about the chemical's health effects.

Why do we need a ban?

A growing body of evidence shows that prenatal exposure to very low levels of chlorpyrifos — levels far lower than what EPA was previously using to establish safety standards — harms babies permanently.
Peer-reviewed studies that have tracked real-world exposures of mothers and their children to chlorpyrifos have associated the pesticide with similar findings.
EPA released a revised human health risk assessment for chlorpyrifos in 2016 that confirmed that there are no safe uses for the pesticide. EPA found that:
  • All food exposures exceed safe levels, with children ages 1–2 exposed to levels of chlorpyrifos that are 140 times what EPA deems safe.
  • There is no safe level of chlorpyrifos in drinking water.
  • Pesticide drift reaches unsafe levels at 300 feet from the field’s edge.
  • Chlorpyrifos is found at unsafe levels in the air at schools, homes, and communities in agricultural areas.
  • All workers who mix and apply chlorpyrifos are exposed to unsafe levels of the pesticide even with maximum personal protective equipment and engineering controls.
  • Field workers are allowed to re-enter fields within 1–5 days after pesticide spraying, but unsafe exposures continue on average 18 days after applications.
Farmworkers and people living in agricultural communities, particularly children, are disproportionately affected by this toxic pesticide. In addition to food exposures, they are more likely to have contaminated drinking water, and they are, quite literally, getting hit from all sides by drift exposures at school, daycare, on the playground, at work, and in their homes.

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Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Jim Cochran, a strawberry farmer, was poisoned by pesticides. People told him no one cared about healthy food and healthy workers. He decided to prove them wrong. More on Jim's story

Which crops have chlorpyrifos on them?

Chlorpyrifos is used on a wide variety of crops including apples, oranges, strawberries, corn, wheat, citrus, and other foods families and their children eat daily.
Estimated Agricultural Use of Chlorpyrifos by County (in 2017, the most recent reporting year available)
Map of Estimated Agricultural Use for Chlorpyrifos by County.
1 – 1,000 lbs
100,000 lbs
Hetty Chin / Earthjustice. Data: Pesticide National Synthesis Project / USGS

USGS EPest-low estimates for chlorpyrifos use in pounds across U.S. harvested croplands (Crop Reporting Districts). The USGS EPest-low model more accurately reflects state use as it assumes no chlorpyrifos on crops for which data is not reported in a Crop Reporting District. The EPest-high estimates (not shown) account for chlorpyrifos use that may happen but may not be reported and cannot be verified. The map reflects only agricultural crop usage in 2017 and does not reflect other uses like golf courses, or plant nurseries. Chlorpyrifos use data pertaining to non-contiguous states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories were not made available by the USGS and are not reflected on this map.
Chlorpyrifos is also used on feed crops that lead to residues in milk, eggs, and meat.
USDA’s Pesticide Data Program found chlorpyrifos residue on citrus and melons even after being washed and peeled. By volume, chlorpyrifos is most used on corn and soybeans, with over a million pounds applied annually to each crop.
More than half of all apples in the U.S. are sprayed with chlorpyrifos, a pesticide considered too toxic for residential use. Yet, the substance can still be used on our food.
Lance Cheung / USDA
More than half of all apples in the U.S. are sprayed with chlorpyrifos, a pesticide considered too toxic for residential use.

What does the law require?

The 1996 Food Quality Protect Act — passed unanimously in Congress — requires EPA to protect children from unsafe exposures to pesticides. The FQPA requires EPA to ensure with reasonable certainty that “no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure” to pesticides. EPA cannot take industry costs into consideration when protecting children from harmful pesticides, because FQPA is a health-based standard.
If EPA cannot ensure that a pesticide won’t harm children, the law requires EPA to ban uses of the pesticide.
Congress strengthened protections for children from pesticides following the release of a pivotal 1993 report by the National Academy of Sciences. The NAS report criticized EPA for treating children like “little adults” by failing to address the unique susceptibility of children to pesticide exposures based on the foods they eat, their play, and sensitive stages of development.

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Crosscut section of a corn in a field in Wharton County, TX.
Lance Cheung / USDA
A corn field in Wharton County, TX. More than a million pounds of chlorpyrifos are applied to corn crops each year.

What legal actions have been taken?

Many. Earthjustice and our clients, alongside many other groups, have worked for more than a decade to build the case to push the U.S. EPA to ban chlorpyrifos.
In 2007, Pesticide Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council filed a petition with EPA seeking a chlorpyrifos ban based on the growing evidence of risks and harms.
Seven years later, following several lawsuits and delays, EPA had still not acted on the petition. In September 2014, on behalf of PAN and NRDC, Earthjustice filed a petition in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to compel EPA to act on the petition.
The following year, while calling EPA delays “egregious” and noting the agency sent a “litany of partial status reports, missed deadlines, and vague promises of future action,” the court ordered EPA to issue a final response to the petition by October 31, 2015.
That deadline was not met, and in 2016, the court said EPA had to take final action on the petition by March 31, 2017. Two days before the court-ordered deadline, despite the overwhelming evidence that the pesticide harms children, workers and the environment, the EPA issued a decision refusing to ban the pesticide, because the agency wanted to continue studying the science.
Earthjustice filed an administrative appeal to the U.S. EPA, urging the federal government to ban chlorpyrifos. The appeal challenged, on its merits, the EPA’s March 2017 action that allows chlorpyrifos to continue to be used on food crops. The attorneys general of New York, California, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, and Vermont filed their own appeal that same day, also calling for a ban.
On Aug. 9, 2018, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case, finding that EPA must finalize its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos within 60 days, based on undisputed findings that the pesticide is unsafe for public health, and particularly harmful to children and farmworkers. In response, the EPA asked the court to re-hear the case. The 9th Circuit agreed to do so, and Earthjustice attorneys presented oral arguments, on behalf of our clients, before an 11-judge panel on Mar. 26, 2019.
Within a month, the 9th Circuit issued its ruling, ordering the U.S. EPA to decide by Jul. 18, 2019 whether to ban chlorpyrifos. On the day of the deadline, EPA announced, again, that it would continue to allow the brain-damaging pesticide to stay in our fruits and vegetables.
Earthjustice brought the EPA back to court, asking for an order directing the agency to put a full ban on chlorpyrifos in place. In July 2020, a three-judge panel at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case, issuing its ruling in April 2021.

Then, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its ruling on Apr. 29, 2021, in our legal challenge.

In its decision, the court noted “EPA has had nearly 14 years to publish a legally sufficient response to the 2007 Petition (to ban chlorpyrifos). During that time, the EPA’s egregious delay exposed a generation of American children to unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos. By remanding back to the EPA one last time, rather than compelling the immediate revocation of all chlorpyrifos tolerances, the Court is itself being more than tolerant. But the EPA’s time is now up.”
The court gave the agency 60 days from the end of the case to revoke the tolerances — chlorpyrifos should be banned in the summer of 2021. This ruling is a huge victory for children and communities across the country who will finally be spared by needless poisonings and lifelong learning disabilities.

“Every day we go without a ban, children and farmworkers are needlessly eating, drinking, and breathing this dreadful pesticide,” said Patti Goldman, the lead Earthjustice attorney in the fight to ban chlorpyrifos. “Earthjustice and our clients won’t stand for this.”

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What’s happening now?

On Aug. 18, 2021, EPA issued its decision to ban food uses of chlorpyrifos on Aug. 18, two days before the court-ordered deadline.
The agency's final rule bans all food uses of chlorpyrifos. According to the new regulation signed by the EPA on Aug. 18, all food uses of chlorpyrifos would be revoked six months from the final rule’s publication in the Federal Register, which will likely happen in the coming weeks. Additionally, non-food uses of pesticide, such as mosquito control and nurseries, would be subject to review later in 2022.
Earlier in the year, the Biden-Harris administration issued an executive order to review the Trump-era decision to refuse to ban chlorpyrifos.
Several states have banned or are considering chlorpyrifos bans, including Hawaii, New York, and California.
Corteva, Inc. — formerly Dow Chemical — announced it will stop selling chlorpyrifos by 2021. Corteva is the largest producer of chlorpyrifos in the United States.

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An apple a day won't keep the doctor away if it has pesticides in it.
– Eveline, Ellicott City, MD
As an RN who worked in the ER in a farming community AND as the mother of a childhood cancer survivor who had a neurological tumor the size of a baseball in her tiny chest at age 8, I am horrified this neurotoxin is not banned! I will speak, write, or show up in any way to protect our food, our water, our children!
– Cheryl, Lake Oswego, OR
I have personally witnessed some of the effects of this toxin and it is outrageous that after it being banned for residential use 17 years ago, that it can continue to expose young children and their parents to its effects in the fields where most of our fruits and vegetables are harvested. Please change this decision now.
– Robert, Sherman, TX
As a former toxicological pathologist, I know that when a well-run study shows these kinds of results, only a fool would dismiss the data and the conclusions. Pruitt's refusal to follow through on banning chlorpyrifos amounts to intentional poisoning of the population and the environment.
He is dismissing evidence that chlorpyrifos toxicity impacts bystanders (not someone who handles or applies the chemical)—i.e. data from children (rather than a controlled rat study).
– Laurie, Friday Harbor, WA
As a neuroscientist, I am well aware of the dangers pesticides like chlorpyrifos pose to normal brain function.
The effects on adult brains are striking, but the effects on children's developing brains are even more serious. We do not know how to reverse the adverse effects of pesticide exposure on brain development. The effects of abnormal brain development are life-long.
The benefits of chlorpyrifos use do not come close to outweighing the heavy costs to the health and brain function of those who are exposed.
– Cheryl, Stanton, NJ
I have family members who have/have died from various diseases on the rise linked to pesticides and toxins including Parkinson's which took my dad's life several months ago. It's imperative that we keep our food supply safe and keep our health a priority.
– Sergio, Los Angeles, CA
This has been a long-standing issue that I have worked on for many years (30?). Having relatives and friends that live in the Central Valley and work there, they are severely affected by this chemical with respiratory issues especially asthma—adults & children. Thank you for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing positive news from you soon.
– John, Pasadena, CA
As a cancer survivor, I am increasingly alarmed at the number and amount of chemicals we are bombarded with ... we allow commercial enterprises to poison all of us. Please reconsider.
– Sara, Elkhorn, WI
As a concerned American, I want the EPA to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos.
As a clinical psychologist, I have worked with many children who have experienced the negative repercussions of such toxins. These children have serious neurodevelopment impairments as a result of toxic exposure.
– Dr. T. S., Novato, CA
A dear friend of mine's father had a beautiful garden. He had a pest problem. He hired a couple of men to come and take care of it using safe environmently friendly products. They used chlorpyrifos-based products.
After they left, he waited until the tomatoes ripened and ate one off the vine as was his fashion. He quickly developed horrible symptoms. Extensive memory loss. Partial blindness. And slurred speech. He then developed brain cancer.
He passed away almost 2 years ago now. He left behind a wife, 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren. He was only 54.
Chlorpyrifos kills. How many more families need to lose their grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren before you believe enough is enough?
– Heather, Russelville, AR
The EPA needs to act quickly on these neurotoxins when research suggests danger. It is especially outrageous that migrant farmworkers and their children, who have poor access to health and economic resources, should bear the primary risk that these pesticides bring.
– Anne, Vashon, WA
My last patient as a hospice volunteer was a migrant worker child dying of a brain tumor. It was wrenching. It was also enraging because, though unprovable, I knew it was due to exposure to toxic pesticides in the fields. This is unacceptable.
Please ban chlorpyrifos now and ban those that produce it from selling it overseas as was done with DDT. Thank you.
– Rebecca, Sedro Woolley, WA
My ex has Parkinson's Disease because he grew up near a farming community.
Neurotoxins don't just kill bugs and bees necessary for our food, they kill people.
– Marla , Amarillo, TX
A Timeline of Chlorpyrifos
World War II-era

The Nazis developed organophosphates during World War II as nerve gas agents. (Sarin gas is in this family of chemicals.) After the war, the chemical companies adapted the organophosphates to be used as pesticides, primarily as insecticides.

1965

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide first registered as an insecticide in the U.S. for both agricultural and residential uses, before Silent Spring and adoption of environmental and health standards in U.S. laws governing pesticide use.

1995

EPA orders DowElanco to pay $876,000, the largest fine up to that time, for violating a federal law requiring it to report human health problems from chlorpyrifos.

2000

Dow stops home uses of chlorpyrifos after EPA finds unacceptable risks to children who crawl on treated carpets or hug their pets after a flea bomb. Termiticide uses are also phased out.

2001 & 2006

EPA re-registers chlorpyrifos and the other organophosphates, purporting to bring them into compliance with health and environmental standards put in place after they were initially registered for use in the United States. EPA allowed risks of poisonings to workers to continue, ignored pesticide drift, and dismissed the growing evidence that prenatal exposures damage children’s brains.

2000s

Air monitoring detects chlorpyrifos at levels that exceed what EPA considered safe for children. California Air Resources Board monitoring finds chlorpyrifos at elementary schools and other sites near orange fields in Tulare County, California, at unsafe levels.

2007

On behalf of United Farm Workers and other farmworker advocates, Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice file a lawsuit challenging EPA’s re-registration of chlorpyrifos despite the harm to workers and from toxic drift.

Pesticide Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council file petition seeking a ban on chlorpyrifos based on evidence of brain damage from prenatal exposures and toxic drift.

2009

On behalf of farmworkers and health advocates, Earthjustice files a petition asking EPA to protect children from pesticide drift.

2000s to the present

Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research at Columbia, Berkeley, and Mt. Sinai study children exposed to CPR in utero and find statistically significant neurodevelopmental harm including reduced IQ, delayed development, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders. A 2012 study found chlorpyrifos exposure led to changes in the physical structure of the developing brain.

2011

EPA documents toxic drift from chlorpyrifos in its preliminary risk assessment, and EPA acknowledges its legal obligation to protect children from pesticide drift.

2012

EPA reaches an agreement with the chlorpyrifos registrants to put buffer zones around schools, day cares, homes, playfields, and other places occupied by people. The buffer zones vary in size from 10 feet for groundboom applications, 10–50 for airblast applications depending on the amount applied, and 10–100 for aerial spraying depending on the amount applied and the droplet size. In setting the buffer zones, EPA ignored direct drift onto people and inhalation exposures from groundboom and airblast spraying.

December 2014

EPA releases its revised human health risk assessment:

(1) acknowledging the extensive body of peer-reviewed science correlating chlorpyrifos exposure with brain damage to children and that the brain damage occurred at exposures far below EPA’s regulatory endpoint based on acute pesticide poisoning risks;

(2) finding acute poisoning risks of concern to workers from over 200 activities, including mixing and loading various pesticide formulations, airblast, aerial, and groundboom spraying, and re-entering fields after spraying to perform tasks like thinning, irrigating, and hand harvesting.

March–June, 2015

EPA represented that it was going to negotiate with the registrants to agree to mitigation or stopping activities that expose workers to excessive poisoning risks. By June 2015, those negotiations had stalled.

August 2015

Declaring it “necessary to end the EPA’s cycle of incomplete responses, missed deadlines, and unreasonable delay,” the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals orders EPA to act on the 2007 petition to ban chlorpyrifos by Halloween.

October 2015

EPA proposes to revoke all food tolerances based on drinking water contamination, but it holds open the possibility that it might be able to allow some uses to continue. EPA takes no action to stop nonfood uses or to protect workers from unacceptable risks. Publication date was 11/06/2015.

January 2016

More than 80,000 people submit comments on the proposal, urging EPA to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos, not just on food crops, and to start proceedings to stop uses that harm workers. Some of the comments submitted during public comment periods on chlorpyrifos:

August 2016

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gives EPA a deadline of March 31, 2017, to take final action on the 2007 petition to ban chlorpyrifos and its proposed revocation of food tolerances.

September 2016

On behalf of United Farm Workers, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Farmworker Association of Florida, GreenLatinos, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, League of United Latin American Citizens, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Migrant Clinicians Network, National Hispanic Medical Association, and Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice petition EPA to immediately suspend all chlorpyrifos uses that pose unacceptable risks to workers, and to cancel all uses of chlorpyrifos.

November 2016

EPA releases a revised human health risk assessment that uses neurodevelopmental effects as its regulatory endpoint. The new risk assessment found that:

  • All food exposures exceed safe levels; children 1–2 years of age are exposed to 140 times the “safe” levels
  • There is no safe level of chlorpyrifos in drinking water
  • Toxic spray drift reached distances of 300 feet or more from the field’s edge
  • All workers who mix and apply chlorpyrifos are exposed to unsafe levels of the pesticide even with maximum personal protective equipment and engineering controls
  • Field workers are allowed to re-enter fields within 1–5 days after pesticide spraying, but unsafe exposures continue on average 18 days after applications
December 2016

Dow Chemical, the largest producer of chlorpyrifos in the United States, donated $1 million in contributions to Trump’s inaugural committee. Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris was a featured speaker during a Trump post-election rally in Grand Rapids, MI.

January 2017

Public interest groups submit technical comments on EPA Proposal To Revoke Chlorpyrifos Tolerances.

February 2017

Food safety laws require EPA to revoke food residue tolerances after making the determination that there are no safe food uses of a pesticide. Because EPA’s November 2016 risk assessment found that there are no safe food uses of chlorpyrifos, tolerance revocation must necessarily follow. Therefore, the farmworker and health advocate groups withdrew their September 2016 Chlorpyrifos Suspension Petition as tolerance revocation would end most uses of chlorpyrifos that harm workers.

March 29, 2017

Two days before a court ordered deadline, the EPA refuses to ban chlorpyrifos, despite the overwhelming evidence that the pesticide harms children, workers and the environment.

April 5, 2017

Earthjustice — representing Pesticide Action Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council — asked the court to order the EPA to act based on the agency's own scientific conclusions, which, under the law, would require EPA to ban chlorpyrifos. Read the legal document.

April 28, 2017

EPA opposes the April 5 motion. Read the legal document.

June 6, 2017

A dozen health, labor and civil rights organizations, represented by Earthjustice filed an administrative appeal to the EPA, urging the federal government to ban chlorpyrifos. The attorney generals of New York, California, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland and Vermont filed their own appeal calling for a ban also Monday. It is now up to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to decide the appeal.

July 18, 2017

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to order EPA to make a new decision on banning chlorpyrifos, leaving the validity of the March EPA order to the administrative appeal and related lawsuit.

July 25, 2017

Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kamala Harris (D-CA) , Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) unveiled a first-of-its-kind bill—The Protect Children, Farmers & Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act, S. 1624—that would ban chlorpyrifos.

October 10, 2017

The EPA releases a series of documents in response to a FOIA request submitted by Earthjustice for communications between the agency and Dow, as well as certain trade associations. Dow Chemical is the largest producer of chlorpyrifos in the United States. Read the documents.

December 20, 2017

The court grants a motion to expedite the case and denied EPA’s motion to dismiss Earthjustice’s petition to review the Pruitt order on chlorpyrifos. Several states who have also called for a chlorpyrifos ban were granted permission to intervene in the case. Earthjustice’s opening brief is due on January 23.

Early January 2018

A National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) biological opinion finds that chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon — all organophosphate pesticides — harm salmon and their habitat to the point that their survival and recovery are at risk. NMFS crafted the report to comply with a 2014 court deadline for the agency to determine whether these pesticides threatened to salmon with extinction. The biological opinion offers three options for protective measures including buffer zones, spray reduction technologies and pesticide stewardship programs. Read more about this case and the report.

July 9, 2018

Final arguments challenging EPA's refusal to ban chlorpyrifos took place in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington. It was the last hearing where health and labor groups represented by Earthjustice — as well as states — presented their arguments for a ban. A decision could happen in weeks or months.

August 9, 2018

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that EPA finalize its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos within 60 days, based on undisputed findings that the pesticide is unsafe for public health, and particularly harmful to children and farmworkers. “The Court ended EPA's shameful actions that have exposed children and farmworkers to this poison for decades,” said Earthjustice attorney Marisa Ordonia. “Finally, our fields, fruits, and vegetables will be chlorpyrifos-free.”

September 24, 2018

The U.S. EPA asks the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to re-hear the case. Filing the request has the effect of postponing the effectiveness of the court order. “Trump’s EPA is delaying the inevitable and putting people in harm’s way. By keeping this unsafe pesticide in our food and drinking water, EPA is violating the law,” said Patti Goldman, managing attorney at Earthjustice. “Every day we go without a ban, children and farmworkers are needlessly eating, drinking and breathing this dreadful pesticide.”

November 16, 2018

Independent scientists publish in the journal Environmental Health a review of Dow-funded chlorpyrifos studies, finding flaws in design, execution, and statistical analysis. Dow frequently points to the findings of animal studies it has funded to counter the growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating harm to children’s brains from low level exposure to chlorpyrifos.

February 6, 2019

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals grants U.S. EPA's request to rehear the case in which the court decided that the agency must ban chlorpyrifos within 60 days.

March 26, 2019

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals holds oral arguments in the rehearing.

April 19, 2019

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issues its ruling, ordering the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to decide by mid-July whether to ban chlorpyrifos, the organophosphate pesticide linked to neurodevelopmental damage in children.

July 18, 2019

The U.S. EPA announced chlorpyrifos can still be used on foods. The decision meets the deadline ordered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for the agency to make a final decision on a petition to ban chlorpyrifos on food.

Aug. 7, 2019

Health and labor organizations, represented by Earthjustice, sue Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to ban chlorpyrifos. Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Pesticide Action Network North America, Natural Resources Defense Council, United Farm Workers, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Hispanic Medical Association, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos, Learning Disability Association of America, League of United Latin American Citizens, and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

Feb. 6, 2020

Corteva, Inc — formerly Dow Chemical — announced it will stop selling the nerve agent pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is linked to brain damage in children. Earthjustice and its clients have led the fight against this pesticide and sued the Trump administration to get a ban. The lawsuit is ongoing. Corteva is the largest producer of chlorpyrifos in the United States.

Sept. 21, 2020

In its third risk assessment on chlorpyrifos, published on Sept. 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it is rejecting extensive scientific evidence that even low levels of the pesticide chlorpyrifos damages children’s brains.

Apr. 29, 2021

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals orders the EPA to ban all food uses of chlorpyrifos or retain only those uses it can find safe for workers and children. The court gave EPA 60 days from the end of the case to revoke the tolerances, meaning chlorpyrifos should be banned this summer.

Aug. 18, 2021

The EPA issues a final rule banning all food uses of nerve-agent pesticide chlorpyrifos. According to the new regulation signed by the EPA on this day, all food uses of chlorpyrifos would be revoked six months from the final rule’s publication in the Federal Register, which will likely happen in the coming weeks. Additionally, non-food uses of pesticide, such as mosquito control and nurseries, would be subject to review later in 2022.