Hawaii Bans Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos in US First

(Photo: A taro field in Kauai, Hawaii. Credit: Kanaka Rastamon, Flickr Creative Commons)

by | May 4, 2018

pesticide Hawaii

(Photo: A taro field in Kauai, Hawaii. Credit: Kanaka Rastamon, Flickr Creative Commons)

Hawaii became the first state in the US to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos with new legislation passed this week. The bill, SB3095, goes into effect July 1, 2018, and bans chlorpyrifos starting January 1, 2019. Pesticide users, including agricultural operations and agrichemical companies, have until 2022 to transition away from the pesticide in Hawaii.

The EPA describes chlorpyrifos as an organophosphate insecticide, acaricide, and miticide mainly used to control foliage and soil-borne insect pests on a variety of food and feed crops. It has been used since 1965 and the agency says it has been found to overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion and at very high exposures, cause respiratory paralysis and death.

EcoWatch calls chlorpyrifos “a highly toxic neurotoxin that causes significant damage to brain development in children.” In March 2017, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt signed an order denying a petition that sought to ban it.

Doctors and scientists were among those advocating for a ban on the pesticide, according to the Hawaii Reporter’s Robert Kay. “Several physicians last year co-signed an appeal to the governor urging a ban on chlorpyrifos based on their concerns,” Kay wrote. “They cited the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who noted that ‘the risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous.’”

The EPA removed residential uses of chlorpyrifos from the market in 2000, but did not issue an outright ban, the Maui News reported. “Some states have tried to ban chlorpyrifos but failed, Rep. Chris Lee of Oahu, House Conference Committee co-chairman, said last week.”

The bill says:

  • Beginning January 1, 2019, all users of restricted use pesticides must report on their use of restricted use pesticides to the Department of Agriculture
  • Use of a restricted use pesticide on or within 100 feet of a school during normal school hours is prohibited starting January 1, 2019
  • The use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos as an active ingredient is prohibited beginning January 1, 2019
  • The Department of Agriculture can grant temporary permits allowing the use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos through December 31, 2022
  • The Department of Agriculture is required to develop a pesticide drift monitoring study no later than July 1, 2019

Exemptions for chlorpyrifos will not be granted after 2022, EcoWatch reported. The mandatory reporting and no-spray zone provisions from the bill are effective immediately.

Hawaii had 7,000 farm operations covering 1.12 million acres in 2017, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The state spends as much as $3 billion annually to import 90% of its food, the Washington Post reported. Given the state of food security there, Gov. David Ige set a 2030 deadline for doubling local agriculture production.

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