California, one of the nation’s largest agricultural states, announced plans Wednesday to ban the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos is inked to neurological problems in infants and children even as federal regulators have allowed the product to remain on the market.
State health officials said their decision came amid growing evidence that the pesticide, which is used on crops such as oranges, grapes and almonds, “causes serious health effects in children and other sensitive populations at lower levels of exposure than previously understood.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also has proposed $5.7 million to support the transition to “safer, more sustainable alternatives,” according to the California Environmental Protection Agency.
The ban, which is expected to take six months to two years to take full effect, comes as other states have started taking similar action. Last year, Hawaii became the first state to ban pesticides containing chlorpyrifos, though that will not take effect until 2022. New York lawmakers recently approved legislation to ban the pesticide by Dec. 1, 2021. Oregon, Connecticut and New Jersey also have bills to take chlorpyrifos off the market.
Environmental groups were quick to praise California’s decision, calling it a major win for public health that would help protect children, farmworkers and wildlife affected by the pesticide.
“Gov. Newsom has done what the Trump administration has refused to do: protect children, farmworkers and millions of others from being exposed to this neurotoxic pesticide,” Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. “With the governor’s action, California is once again showing leadership in protecting public health.”