A pesticide commonly used on food crops which has been linked to neurological harm in children is being banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The agency announced the rule change on Wednesday in a reversal of a Trump-era decision.
“Today EPA is taking an overdue step to protect public health. Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide,” said Administrator Michael S Regan.
“After the delays and denials of the prior administration, EPA will follow the science and put health and safety first.”
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide used on crops including soybeans, fruits, nuts, broccoli and cauliflower.
The chemical substance has been found to lead to neurotoxicity, and has also been associated with potential neurological effects in children, the EPA said in a release.
According to Earthjustice, an environmental legal non-profit, chlorpyrifos, and other organophosphate pesticides, can be lethal at high levels of exposure. Exposure to these chemicals while pregnant also has been linked to disorders like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism in children.
The EPA decision follows an appeals court ruling stemming from a 2007 lawsuit launched by environmental groups which called on the agency to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances.
During the Trump administration, the EPA repeatedly denied the environmentalists’ petition. The denials were challenged in the court of appeals by a coalition of farmworker, health, environmental, and other groups.
In April, the Ninth Circuit court found that under former President Trump that the “...EPA had abdicated its statutory duty under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act”.
The Court directed EPA to “modify chlorpyrifos tolerances with a supporting safety determination or revokes the tolerances, and modify or cancel food-use registrations of chlorpyrifos”.
The EPA said on Wednesday that it had now determined that “the current aggregate exposures from use of chlorpyrifos do not meet the legally required safety standard that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from such exposures”.
The pesticide’s use on food is already banned in the European Union, Canada, and some states including California, Hawaii, New York, Maryland, and Oregon.