Chlorpyrifos is a part of a class of pesticides called organophosphates. These chemicals have roots in the pre-World War II chemical weapons programs of Nazi Germany. It has been clear since then that high exposure to these chemicals could poison people causing serious illness including respiratory paralysis and death.
There is also a robust body of evidence that even low levels of organophosphates like chlorpyrifos present some serious health impacts on humans, especially children. The science has found that chlorpyrifos can harm the development of nervous systems of infants and young children. Exposure to organophosphates in pregnant women resulted in diminished cognitive ability, delays in motor development and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in their children.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ended nearly all uses of chlorpyrifos in 2001. In 2016, the EPA issued a revised human health risk assessment that represented the next step to banning the use of chlorpyrifos on food. In 2017, the Trump administration indicated that it does not intend to follow the scientific finding from 2016 and will not be further restricting the use of chlorpyrifos.
It appears that states will have to step in where EPA leadership has decided to abdicate its responsibility. New York has the authority and, indeed, the moral obligation to act to protect the public from this dangerous pesticide.
If the Legislature fails to pass this bill, the Department of Environmental Conservation must use its existing authority under the Environmental Conservation Law to enact the ban.
This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law to prohibit any person from using the pesticide chlorpyrifos in the state.