As kids head back to school this fall, many will find learning an extra challenge. Scientists now estimate that as many as ¼ of all U.S. children may have lower IQs due to eating foods sprayed with pesticides like chlorpyrifos.
This is both frightening and fixable.
Chlorpyrifos food residue is the leading driver of dietary risk both because of its neurotoxic effects, and because so much is used. Ten million pounds of chlorpyrifos are applied to apples, peaches, sweet peppers and many other crops in the U.S. every year. The vast majority of us — including children — carry breakdown products of the chemical in our bodies.
Tell EPA it's time. This month our public officials are finally reviewing the health risks of chlorpyrifos, in response to a lawsuit PAN and our partners filed in 2007. Add your name to our petition urging EPA to act now on this dangerous chemical that puts our children at risk.
We are pleased that your agency is — at long last — reviewing the health effects of agricultural uses of the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos. As we noted in our 2007 legal petition, evidence of this chemical’s dangers has long been strong enough to warrant action.
We highlight here three issues of concern raised by the agency’s Preliminary Human Health Risk Assessment that is currently open for public comment:
1 - Chlorpyrifos food residues: The assessment proposes a reduction in the “FQPA safety factor” used to assess dietary risk for children, from 10x in the 2000 assessment to 1X in 2011. This makes little sense given new evidence of the dangers of low-level exposures.
2 - Dangers of drift: The assessment of chlorpyrifos drift from agricultural fields clearly shows that “residential bystander” exposure — which includes exposure of children at home and in school — is unsafe. The fact that real air monitoring data are used to reach this conclusion (rather than modeling), makes the finding all the more powerful, and the need to protect rural families and children from chlorpyrifos all the more urgent.
3 - New science strengthens the case: A decade ago, the evidence was already strong that exposure to chlorpyrifos increased the risk of damage to a child’s developing nervous system. The agency’s new assessment appropriately identifies several new and important studies linking prenatal and early-life exposures to cognitive delays, lower IQs and impaired motor control, among other things. New studies also show that newborns can be more than 100 times more sensitive to chlorpyrifos than adults.
We urge you to act now to protect all children from chlorpyrifos exposure. It’s high time EPA finished the job it began with the ban of chlorpyrifos home uses back in 2001.