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Velázquez Seeks Ban on Dangerous Pesticide

Velazquez Seeks Ban on Dangerous Pesticide
July 25, 2017
Press Release

Substance Linked to Health Defects in Prenatal Children

Washington, DC – As the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves to reverse an Obama-era ban on a toxic pesticide, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced legislation to rid the chemical from fields across the country. Today, Velázquez introduced The Pesticide Protection Act of 2017, which bans from commerce Chlorpyrifos, a toxic chemical that has been linked to damaging and often irreversible health outcomes in workers, pregnant women and children. 

“EPA Administrator Pruitt is showing his true colors by protecting big corporations at the expense of the public health and safety,” said Velázquez. “It’s unconscionable for EPA to turn a blind eye as children and workers are exposed to this poison. If the EPA won’t do its job when it comes to Chlorpyrifos, then Congress needs to act – and do so quickly.” 

“Chlorpyrifos has been shown to hurt the health and mental development of newborns and pregnant mothers,” said Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), who co-led with Velázquez in introducing the measure. “This bill is an important step in the fight to ban Chlorpyrifos, and improve the lives of the farm workers, mothers and children whose lives have been shattered by this poison. By choosing to block the ban of this toxic pesticide, EPA Administrator Pruitt has shown that he cares about corporations more than the health of working American communities.”

Chlorypyrifos is a widely used pesticide, with agriculture companies spraying 6 million pounds of the substance on crops like citruses, apples and cherries, annually.  In the same family as Sarin gas, the substance was initially developed prior to World War II as a chemical weapon.  Its current use requires agriculture workers to take extreme protective measures and wear additional gear like chemical restraint gloves and respirators. After being treated with Chlorpyrifos, fields are often so toxic that entry is restricted for up to 5 days. One study found that pregnant women in their second trimester who lived near fields sprayed with Chlorpyrifos gave birth to children who were 3.3 times more likely to have autism. 

In October of 2015, the Obama EPA took initial steps to preclude the chemical’s use. In March of this year, newly installed EPA Administrator Pruitt formally decided to reverse the ban.  

“This chemical was removed from commerce for good reason and for the Trump EPA to put Americans’ health at risk by kowtowing to chemical manufacturers’ lobbyists is unacceptable,” said Velázquez. “From questioning the effects of climate change to scaling back regulations to protect clean air and water, the Trump Administration is only six months along but has managed to lead a full scale assault on the environment. This ill-conceived decision is only the most recent example.” 

Velázquez’s bill has been endorsed by environmental groups such as the Pesticides Action Network of North America, the National Resources Defense Council and Environmental Working Group.  Her bill closely mirrors legislation being promoted in the Senate by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).   Velázquez joined the Senators at an event today on the topic. 

Video of her remarks at that event can be seen on Facebook Live by clicking here