For more than 10 years, scientists and others have warned lawmakers that a widely-used pesticide is linked to neurological damage in children. Now, the government is finally prohibiting the use of the substance in food crops.
The pesticide chlorpyrifos has long been used in growing soybeans, corn and other food crops, as well as in non-food settings, such as golf course lawns and ant traps. More than a decade ago, studies linked the chemical to serious health problems for infants and children, including low birth weight and brain damage. According to researchers and activists, children who consume foods laced with it are at risk. Scientists also believe children of farmworkers may risk exposure when they come in contact with their parents work clothes. Unborn children are at risk when their mothers are exposed.
When the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it was banning the use of chlorpyrifos in food crops, it took the unusual step of publishing a final rule without first submitting a proposal for comments. In a statement, the EPA noted that the research linking the chemical to brain damage has been around for more than 10 years. A court order in a lawsuit is also part of the reason behind the new policy change.
Chemical manufacturers and others have long resisted the ban, and the government has been slow to take action. The federal government first made moves to limit the pesticide in 2015, but the Trump administration reversed the steps. This reversal led to a court case in which ultimately the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos in food crops unless it could demonstrate it is safe.
In a personal injury case involving toxic substances, it isn’t always easy to prove the substance was responsible for the injury. The task gets somewhat easier after researchers show a link between the chemical and certain injuries, and when the federal government takes the research seriously enough to prohibit use of the substance.
Success in these cases requires skill, determination and thorough science.