Hawaii becomes the first state to ban the use of pesticide linked to brain damage

Scott Pruitt's EPA has gone to elaborate lengths to protect the manufacturers of chlorpyrifos, which is harmful to children and farm workers.

Congressional members and activists call for congressional action on banning pesticides in Washington, D.C. on July 25, 2017. CREDIT: Esther Yu Hsi Lee/ThinkProgress
Congressional members and activists call for congressional action on banning pesticides in Washington, D.C. on July 25, 2017. CREDIT: Esther Yu Hsi Lee/ThinkProgress

More than a year after the Trump administration controversially overturned a decision to ban pesticides containing chlorpyrifos, the state of Hawaii has taken the matter into its own hands.

The Aloha State has passed a law barring the use of such chemicals, which have been linked to adverse side effects in humans, including debiltating neurological and developmental maladies.

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On Wednesday, Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) put his signature to Senate Bill 3095, which will ban the use of chlorpyrifos pesticides in the Aloha State at the start of the next calendar year. The law also bars the spraying of any pesticide within 100 feet of schools during normal hours of attendance.

“Protecting the health and safety of our keiki and residents is one of my top priorities. We must protect our communities from potentially harmful chemicals. At the same time, Hawai‘i’s agriculture industry is extremely important to our state and economy. We will work with the Department of Agriculture, local farmers and the University of Hawai‘i as we seek safe, alternative pest management tools that will support and sustain our agriculture industry for generations to come,” said Ige.

Protecting the interests of chlorpyrifos-based pesticide manufacturer has been a persistent interest of the Trump administration and his head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt.

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As ThinkProgress reported in April of 2017, Dow Chemical President Andrew Liveris — whose Dow AgroSciences division manufactures chlorpyrifos — was one of many corporate bigwigs to contribute to President Donald Trump’s inauguration fund. Liveris’ $1 million gift did not go unnoticed: two months later, Pruitt let it be known that the EPA “would not follow the recommendation of the agency’s own scientists to ban the use of chlorpyrifos.”

Chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to severe developmental issues in the children exposed to it, as well as cancer and other severe autoimmune disorders in the adults who handle it, is “the most widely used conventional insecticide” used in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control classifies the chemical as a neurotoxin. In recent years, the states of California, Maryland, and New Jersey have all contemplated banning the use of these pesticides.