(CN) – An environmental group asked the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal to ban a dangerous pesticide the group says is endangering the nation’s children.
Earthjustice filed a petition for review with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, accusing the EPA of failing to act on its own science that shows chlorpyrifos – one of the most widely used pesticides – causes brain damage that leads to developmental problems and autism in children.
“EPA has repeatedly found chlorpyrifos unsafe, especially for children, yet time and time again it refuses to protect kids,” said Patti Goldman, an attorney for Earthjustice who is managing the case.
The EPA did not return a request for comment by press time.
Several studies show chlorpyrifos causes cognitive problems in humans, including memory loss and trouble focusing. The problems are particularly pronounced for children, as exposure to the chemical can lead to long-term, irreversible IQ reduction, attention deficit disorder and autism.
The adverse effects to human health prompted the EPA to ban the pesticide for household use in 2001.
States have begun banning the chemical, with Hawaii leading the way in 2018. California and New York have also started legislative processes to ban chlorpyrifos in their respective states, and New York’s ban is waiting on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature. The European Union is considering a ban for 2020.
Farmers say the pesticide is a crucial component for protecting their crops and maximizing the efficiency of their operations.
“Farmers nationwide depend on chlorpyrifos in managing their crops,” said American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall, when the EPA announced it would not ban chlorpyrifos. “It is widely and safely used for a wide range of crops, including alfalfa, citrus, vegetables, soybeans, almonds and others. It also protects hundreds of thousands of acres of grass seed production, where it controls aphids, cutworms and other pests.”
Goldman has been in and out of court fighting the EPA over chlorpyrifos for years, with most of hearings related to the EPA’s repeated delays on making a final determination.
In April, the Ninth Circuit ordered the EPA to make a decision regarding the chemical’s public health impacts. During oral argument, Goldman attempted to convince a panel of circuit judges that it was appropriate to order the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos at the time. But the judges demurred, preferring to wait until the agency made a determination.
The agency declined to ban the chemical last month, prompting the petition for review.
“The science and the law call for a chlorpyrifos ban,” Goldman said. “We are hopeful the courts will do the same for the sake of children and farmworkers.”