(CN) - The Ninth Circuit on Thursday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final action on its proposed ban of a pesticide that environmentalists say is dangerous to humans by the end of 2016.
The Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council filed a petition in 2007 requesting that the EPA cancel registration of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The groups say that the chemical has poisoned many workers, children and rural families, and is linked to neurological impairments in children.
The EPA issued a proposed rule banning the pesticide earlier this year, just before the Oct. 31 deadline set by the Ninth Circuit. A three-judge panel told the agency in August to release a proposed or final rule banning the pesticide or to issue a "full and final" response to the petition filed by the environmental groups.
Chlorpyrifos, introduced in 1965, is widely used to control pests that threaten more than 60 crops including almonds, walnuts, oranges, cotton and grapes.
The EPA barred the pesticide from homes in 2000, saying then that the action was "good news for the protection of our country's public health."
The proposed ban announced this year would revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances, ending all uses of the pesticide that result in residue on food, contamination of drinking water, or drift to schools, homes and other inhabited places.
Under the latest order issued by the Ninth Circuit, the EPA must take final action by Dec. 30, 2016, on its proposed revocation rule and its final response to the environmental groups' 2007 petition.
The agency is still taking public comments on the proposed rule.
Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, manufactures chlorpyrifos and has stated its opposition to the proposed ban, claiming that the pesticide has been thoroughly tested for health, safety and environmental effects.
Dow says it "remains confident that all U.S. tolerance issues relating to the continued use of chlorpyrifos can be readily resolved with a more refined analysis of data."
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