Schatz Introduces Legislation to Protect Children From Pesticide
US Senator Brian Schatz introduced a bill last Monday to ban chlorpyrifos, a dangerous pesticide that is particularly harmful to children. The bill, called the Prohibit Chlorpyrifos Poisoning Students Act, would take Hawai‘i’s state ban to the national level, banning the use of the chemical near schools in 2019 and banning its sale and distribution completely the following year.
“This proposal would ban chlorpyrifos – a dangerous pesticide known to damage our children’s developing brains – and establish new, sensible safeguards that prevent the spraying of toxic pesticides near schools, while requiring transparency and notification about the use of pesticides in our communities,” said Andrea Delgado, the legislative director of the Healthy Communities Program at Earthjustice. “It’s an important step forward for the health of all people, especially farmworkers and people in agricultural communities who bear the brunt of exposure to pesticide applications.”
Hawai‘i became the first state to ban chlorpyrifos in June this year, when Gov. Ige signed legislation that will go into effect after 2022. Two months after the bill became law, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the chemical in throughout the country. The EPA is contesting the ruling.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to chlorpyrifos, EPA is siding with the chemical industry against public health. Congress must act where EPA will not,” said Maureen Swanson, Director of the Healthy Children Project at the Learning Disabilities Association of America.
The pesticide was banned in homes in 2000 because of its toxicity. The EPA conducted an assessment in 2016 and found that children between the ages of one and two were exposed to levels of the pesticide that are 140 times more than what the EPA deems safe. The assessment also found unsafe levels of the chemical in the air at schools, homes, and communities in agricultural areas. The chemical is used on golf courses, farms, and for mosquito control.
The Prohibit Chlorpyrifos Poisoning Students Act is available online.