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NJ Seeks to Ban Pesticide Given Clean Bill of Health by EPA

Chlorpyrifos can potentially cause developmental damage to children, vomiting and dizziness in adults

The Legislature is pressing ahead with a measure to ban a pesticide linked to potential harmful health effects in humans, but which the federal government backed off prohibiting its use earlier this year.

The decision by new Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to reject a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos this spring, reversed a recommendation of the agency’s scientists had made during the Obama administration.

The dispute is one of several arising out of an abrupt change in the direction of environmental policies taken by the Trump administration, a shift lawmakers and conservationists have vowed to fight vigorously at the state level.

Chlorpyrifos is a widely employed insecticide used for decades on a variety of crops like apples, grapes, and soybeans. Numerous studies have shown it can cause developmental problems in children, as well as nausea and other ailments in adults.

In deciding not to ban the compound, Pruitt cited uncertainty about the neurodevelopmental effects of early-life exposure to the pesticide. Manufacturers voluntarily phased the compound out of residential use in 2001 under an agreement with the EPA.

In May, shortly after the decision was announced, dozens of farmworkers in California became sick, suffering dizziness and vomiting after the pesticide was sprayed on an orchard and drifted into a field where they were working.

The New Jersey ban on the use of the insecticide drew opposition from the New Jersey Farm Bureau’s Rick Suydam, its president, who called the insecticide a valuable tool in crop production.

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