California officials look to further restrict popular pesticide, pesticide causing health problems

Posted at 11:07 AM, Aug 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-18 21:48:10-04

The California Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday they are pursuing health protections on one of the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the nation -- Chlorpyrifos.

The pesticide has been used in the county for over 50 years.

“Within the last five months we’ve seen at least two major cases of pesticide drift. One of these we have confirmed that Chlorpyrifos was sprayed on the farm workers," Eriberto Fernandez with the United Farm Workers Association said.

“These cases of pesticide drift, most go unreported to the proper authorities," Fernandez said. “Farm workers are afraid.”

Kern County is the top user of the pesticide second only to Tulare County, Fernandez said.

More than 1.1 million pounds of Chlorpyrifos were use statewide in 2015 -- with more than a quarter of that in Kern County alone, according to state data.

“It causes episodes or incidents, pesticide drift incidents," Kern County Ag Commissioner Glenn Fankhauser said.

The UFW has reported multiple cases of pesticide drift this summer alone, exposing dozens of workers.

“It smells like asphalt," Fankhauser said. “People notice it because it smells so much. We come down hard on the growers or the applicators who use it incorrectly.”

While the federal Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to ban the product, the Department of Pesticide Regulation wants to place more restrictions statewide.

State restriction recommendations will be made to county agriculture officials next month after public comment.

SACRAMENTO – The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) announced today that both the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are pursuing health protections on one of the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the nation, chlorpyrifos.
The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released today an updated draft risk assessment for public comment. This action marks the start of a public and scientific review of the document, which could lead to increased restrictions on chlorpyrifos statewide. DPR is currently developing interim restrictions on use of the pesticide and recommendations will be made to county agricultural commissioners next month.
In addition, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is referring chlorpyrifos for potential listing as a developmental toxicant under Proposition 65. OEHHA today posted an announcement that the state’s Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee will consider the listing of chlorpyrifos at its next public meeting.
“While chlorpyrifos has been protecting crops for more than 50 years, new information in the scientific community leads us to believe the level of risk it poses is greater than previously known,” said CalEPA Secretary Matthew Rodriquez. “We need to better understand the science to ensure our actions protect public health. The actions we are taking today reflect our commitment to the health and safety of all Californians, and the environment.”
Department of Pesticide Regulation
DPR scientists believe chlorpyrifos may pose a public health risk as a toxic air contaminant based on its assessment of the latest studies in the scientific community. However, this new finding, indicated in the updated draft risk assessment has not been peer reviewed and must go through a public comment period and be independently evaluated by other scientists.
On Sept. 15, DPR will hold a public workshop on the updated draft risk assessment at the Pesticide Registration and Evaluation Committee meeting in Sacramento.
After the 45-day written public comment period, which begins today, DPR’s updated draft risk assessment will go before an independent panel of nine scientists known as the Scientific Review Panel []([]SRP[])[]. The thorough review process, which may ultimately lead to more restrictions on use, may conclude in December 2018.
Next month, DPR will provide county agricultural commissioners with specific interim recommendations, including:
?     Increasing distances between sites where the chemical is applied and sensitive locations, such as homes and schools. These would be specific to each type of application method.
?     New restrictions on methods used to apply chlorpyrifos.
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
OEHHA will soon open a written public comment period on scientific materials that describe the evidence for the developmental toxicity of chlorpyrifos.  OEHHA will provide the materials and the written public comments to the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee[]. The committee is an independent panel of 10 scientific experts that determines whether chemicals are added to the Proposition 65 list as causing birth defects and other reproductive harm. The committee will also consider public comments presented at its November 29 meeting. 
If the committee adds chlorpyrifos to the Proposition 65 list as a developmental toxicant, businesses that knowingly cause exposures above minimum levels must provide a Proposition 65 warning.
DPR’s updated draft risk assessment and other documents relating to chlorpyrifos are available at:[]
OEHHA’s notice of the Nov. 29 meeting of the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee concerning chlorpyrifos is available[].
CalEPA’s mission is to restore, protect and enhance the environment to ensure public health, environmental quality and economic vitality. It develops, implements and enforces environmental laws that regulate air, water and soil quality, pesticide use and waste recycling reduction. Its departments are at the forefront of environmental science, using the most recent research to shape the state’s environmental laws. The Office of the Secretary heads CalEPA oversees and coordinates the activities of the California Air Resources Board, Department of Pesticide Regulation, CalRecycle, Department of Toxic Substances Control, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the State Water Resources Control Board.