California regulators recommended new restrictions Thursday on chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide blamed for harming the brains of babies, The LA Times has reported.
The Department of Pesticide Regulation issued temporary guidelines for chlorpyrifos that include banning it from crop dusting, discontinuing its use on most crops and increasing perimeters around where it’s applied.
The Dow Chemical Co. pesticide currently used on about 60 kinds of crops — including grapes, almonds and oranges — has increasingly come under fire from regulators, lawmakers and courts.
A federal appeals court in August ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove the pesticide from sale in the United States after it ruled the Trump administration endangered public health by reversing an Obama-era effort to ban the chemical. The EPA is appealing that 2-1 ruling to a full panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hawaii passed legislation in June that will ban the use of the pesticide there in January.
An environmental group blasted California’s new recommendations as toothless and said the state should be taking the pesticide off the market after scientists for three state agencies found it was toxic and couldn’t be safely used at any levels.
“Unfortunately, these are voluntary recommendations for local officials that have no weight of law behind them,” said Paul Towers of the Pesticide Action Network. “Instead of taking this brain-harming pesticide off the market, California officials are again passing the buck.”
California released its recommendations as it considers long-term regulations to restrict the use of chlorpyrifos and designate it as a “toxic air contaminant” that poses a risk of serious illness or death.
Farmworkers in the nation’s leading agricultural state have been sickened several times in recent years when the pesticide drifted.