Tiny amounts of chlorpyrifos, lead, chemical flame retardants and organophosphate pesticides such as Round Up, among other toxins, course through the blood of nearly every American. States are beginning to stand up to protect their children our future generation against the multitude of toxins that assault them daily. Hawai'i made history today when Governor David Ige, watched by representatives of the community from across the islands, signed into law Senate Bill 3095, banning all uses of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that has been shown to harm children and has been found in food, air and drinking water. The high-profile pesticide was slated for a ban, but under Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency, the planned ban was reversed.
For half a century, U.S. staple foods such as corn, wheat, beets have been sprayed with chlorpyrifos, a dangerous pesticide that can damage the developing brains of children, causing reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders.
“Environmental law group Earthjustice listed the risks the EPA discovered through its own research into chlorpyrifos:
- All exposure to chlorpyrifos through food exceeds safe levels of the chemical. The most exposed population is children between one and two years of age. On average, this vulnerable group is exposed to 140 times the level of chlorpyrifos the EPA deems safe.
- Chlorpyrifos contaminates drinking water.
- Chlorpyrifos drifts to schools, homes, and fields in toxic amounts at more than 300 feet from the fields.
- Workers face unacceptable risks from exposures when they mix and apply chlorpyrifos and when they enter fields to tend to crops.
After decades of determining the neurotoxic impact of this chemical on our children, Dow Chemicals complains that there still has yet to be developed a comparable product available to farmers as a substitute for chlorpyrifos. Dow add that the proposed restrictions could further result in over-reliance on more toxic substances, such as pyrethroids, which may have a greater negative impact on beneficial insects.
There is little doubt about the science. The federal government has taken a back seat in protecting our children. Its time for the States to take stand up and protect our children.
Hawaii's landmark law also takes steps to protect children that could be exposed to other airborne pesticides; it mandates 100 foot no-spray buffer zones around schools to protect children from spraying of EPA-designated restricted use pesticides (RUPs) during school hours. As a result, chemical companies will have to report regularly on the RUPs they spray, when and where they are sprayed and in what quantities. As a result, impacted communities can access information about what they are being exposed to, and regulators can make informed decisions about protecting public health, the environment and endangered ecosystems.
“‘Without the ban, farmworkers, their children, and others can't escape exposure because the poison is in [the] air they breathe, in the food they eat, the soil where children play,’ observed Erik Nicholson, national vice president of United Farm Workers. ‘We all have a basic right to a healthy life.’
“This law is our message to the EPA and to the chemical companies that we will no longer tolerate being ground zero for the testing of toxic pesticides that are damaging our children’s health and poisoning our environment,” said Gary Hooser, former Majority Leader of the Hawai'i Senate, and founder of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action.
Hooser, who lives on Kauai, guided the “Protect our Keiki” coalition of diverse residents from across the islands through the complicated political process that resulted in the law.
“Hawaii’s efforts have set a precedent, and we hope this will pave the way for other states that are looking to enact similar legislation,” said Leslee Matthews, a Honolulu-based policy fellow with Pesticide Action Network.
What about Idaho?
Idaho usage of neurotoxic pesticides: Agricultural products contribute more than $3.9 billion to Idaho’s annual economy, many of which – although diverse – are nationally significant. Sugar beets, lentils, wheat, sweet cherries, and apples are among the crops for which Idaho is one of the top ten producers in the U.S.
Does this mean that Idaho is one of the top ten users of chlorpyrifos?
Did you know Idaho leads infant mortality rates in the U.S. due to fetal congenital defects?