Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog » Blog Archive Canada Quietly Bans Chlorpyrifos, While EPA’s 60-Day Deadline For Action Rapidly Approaches

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2021) Last week, Health Canada quietly announced its intention to cancel all remaining registrations of the brain-damaging insecticide chlorpyrifos. The Canadian pesticide regulators’ decision comes soon after a US federal court gave the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a 60-day deadline to make a final decision to change or unregister the chemical. With Europe and now Canada abolishing the use of this dangerous insecticide, proponents are calling for the Biden administration, under EPA Administrator Michael Regan, to finally end the decades of damage caused after chlorpyrifos was first registered in 1965.

Until recently, Canada and the United States had relatively similar regulations on the use of chlorpyrifos. Officials in both countries abolished homeowner use and intensified agricultural use in the 2000s and early 2010s, requiring additional personal protective equipment and measures to reduce drift.

However, Health Canada began significant restrictions on chlorpyrifos in 2019 when it proposed the elimination of a number of uses that threaten environmental health. According to their draft decision, regulators planned to eliminate all uses except mosquito control, structural pest control, outdoor ornamental plants, and greenhouse ornamental plants. Certain agricultural uses have been granted an extended period with additional risk reduction measures.

Meanwhile, in the late 2010s, the EPA set out to defend the use of chlorpyrifos. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has overturned a pending order during the Obama administration that would have canceled chlorpyrifos, raising serious concerns about a conflict of interest with the pesticide’s principal registrant, Dow Chemical. Legal proceedings continued, but by the end of 2020, the EPA proposed re-registering chlorpyrifos with risk-reduction measures that health experts deemed utterly inadequate. The agency proposed changes to labeling, additional personal protective equipment and limited additional measures to reduce drift.

Health Canada released its draft decision in late 2020, indicating that it will be subject to further review based on the results of its pending human health risk assessment. As part of this review, the agency requested a “data call-in” indicating that their manufacturers would need to provide regulatory agencies with specific studies or information on certain health effects in order to maintain registration of the chemical. According to a press release released by Health Canada last week, chlorpyrifos manufacturers “did not meet the data requirements.” As a result, regulators decided to stop all remaining uses, including those they considered keeping late last year. As part of the cancellation, final retail sales will cease in December 2022 and the remaining agricultural uses will have a deadline of December 2023.

With Canada phasing out and phasing out chlorpyrifos, the EPA has less than 60 days to make a final decision on whether to continue to approve the chemical’s use. As it stands, chlorpyrifos is currently allowed on a range of food crops, from almonds to apples, broccoli, cucumbers, onions, peppers, strawberries, and walnuts. Fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet, but the cumulative concentrations of chlorpyrifos in food and in our environment pose significant health risks, especially for children with developing bodies. And within this group, farm workers’ children are likely to be most at risk from the many possible routes of exposure (family members returning home from work, air in an agricultural area, and food and water).

The selection of foods that chlorpyrifos is allowed on underscores the importance of choosing organic whenever possible. Consumer choices in the marketplace can make a world of difference. Under public pressure, the insecticide’s main registrant, Corteva (formerly DowDupont), announced that it would cease production of the chemical.

Concerned US citizens are strongly encouraged to let the EPA know what they think about further approval of this highly toxic product. While the agency is advising during its 60 day period, the EPA needs to know that the public is paying attention to its decision and will hold the agency accountable to science. But while the EPA will make a decision on chlorpyrifos, it’s important to inform the agency that other neurotoxic chemicals should be on the chopping block next. Take action today to direct the EPA to follow Health Canada’s lead in banning the use of chlorpyrifos and phasing out other neurotoxic pesticides.

All unassigned positions and opinions in this article are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Health Canada

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