Farmworkers, labor and community health groups across the country petitioned the EPA today (September 21) to demand the agency immediately ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and even unconsciousness in severe instances.
“We are seeking an immediate and total chlorpyrifos ban because farmworkers have been overexposed, even with all the protective clothing that could possibly be required,” says Erik Nicholson, United Farm Workers national vice president, in a statement sent to Colorlines. “It’s nearly impossible for them to escape chlorpyrifos exposure because the poison is in the air they breathe, in the food they eat and in the soil where their children play.”
The environmental agency has taken steps since 2000 to reduce the use of the pesticide in home bug bombs, public spaces, tomatoes and citrus. However, according to various groups, the EPA forgot about farmworkers—even after its own 2014 assessment showed risk to workers and stated that “additional restrictions may be necessary.” The agency said it would implement various measures but never did.
“Farmworkers, who are predominantly poor and the majority are people of color, bear the brunt of poisonings from chlorpyrifos,” said Virginia Ruiz, director of Occupational and Environmental Health at Farmworker Justice, in the statment. “EPA must swiftly move forward on the path to environmental justice and ban all uses of chlorpyrifos.”
Other groups involved in the petition include the League of United Latin American Citizens, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Hispanic Medical Association, Farmworker Association of Florida and Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, among others.
Read the online release from Earthjustice, which helped file the petition, here.